Brooklynites parade in celebration of Columbus Day

Columbus day
The Honorable Fabrizio Di Michele Council general of Italy in New York (middle) poses with party-goers.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Brooklynites came together on Oct. 9 for the borough’s annual Columbus Day parade, where local leaders celebrated noteworthy Italian-Americans for their extraordinary contributions to New York City. 

“You can come to this country, and can you participate in this country. And one group that personifies that dictation and that commitment are the Italian Americans, in the country — but specifically in the borough of Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn Borough President and Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams. 

columbus day
Brooklynites hold up Italian flags at Brooklyn’s Columbus Day parade.Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

“When you spend 22 years of your life wearing a bullet-proof vest protecting the children and families of this city, you know how important this community is,” Adams continued. 

The Beep was flanked at the Bensonhurst parade by fellow politicos, such as local Councilmember Justin Brannan, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, and Curtis Sliwa, Adams’ 2021 opponent in the 2021 mayoral race. 

The parade was organized by the Federation of Italian-American Organizations (FIAO), which kicked off the gathering two days before the official Columbus Day on Oct. 11. 

“My grandparents, Giovanni de Blasio and Anna Briganti, came to America with their culture and faith,” tweeted Mayor Bill de Blasio. “That faith was rewarded. I’ve visited their hometowns in Italy. Their values endure. Today we celebrate the Italian Americans who brought so much to our country. Buona Festa!”

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The Federation of Italian-American Organizations hoisted a banner during the Oct. 9 parade. Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Christopher Columbus has become a hotly-debated topic in recent years, with some Brooklynites calling for the removal of the 14th century-era explorer’s statue from Downtown Brooklyn, which was etched into stone in the 1860s, and erected outside the local courthouse in 1971 with the support of Mayor John Lindsey.  

“I am a Brooklynite who has to do jury duty at that court house…but I have to go and serve justice in a building that right in front of it has a criminal, a historically awful criminal — it is triggering every time I walk by it,” said local Brooklynite George Scott at a meeting late last year.

Local New Yorkers point to Columbus’ violent history after arriving in North America in 1492, which includes the rape and murder of thousands of indigenous people. 

Many have taken to renaming the day “Indigenous People’s Day” to honor the victims of Columbus’ genocide, as well as the rich history of native people and their contributions to society. 

Nevertheless, hundreds of Brooklynites flew Italian flags on Saturday as they celebrated Columbus’ voyage across the Ocean Blue as they celebrated the day, which has become a de facto celebration for the Italian-American community.