Wearing tricorner hats and colonial uniforms, the Yalesville Fife and Drum Corps marched down the middle of Chapel Street to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Not far behind in white-collared shirts and black-and-yellow bowties, the Stylettes Drill Team stepped back and forth and spun in sync to the percussive beat of their own three drummers.
And watching over them all, a man dressed as Christopher Columbus held a small inflated globe in one hand and a spyglass in the other, smiling and pointing and waving from the prow of his wooden-ship parade float.
Those were a few of the diverse musical, dance, and costumed performances on display on Sunday afternoon during the regional Columbus Day Parade. The annual event landed in New Haven this year after rotating through Branford, North Haven, East Haven, Hamden, and West Haven over the past half-decade.
East Rock Alder Anna Festa said this year’s parade and subsequent cultural heritage festival in Wooster Square were not only in honor of Christopher Columbus, the 15th-century Italian-born explorer whom she said many Italian-Americans think of as “the first Italian immigrant.” She said the celebrations were also in honor of the city’s cultural diversity more broadly, and in particular of its manifold immigrant populations.
“This is to share and show off New Haven and its diversity and how all immigrants have contributed in a positive way,” she said.
Paul Criscuolo (at left in photo, with committee board member Peter Desio), the president of the Columbus Day Parade Committee, said that the city’s first Columbus Day parade took place in 1892, on the 400th anniversary of the explorer’s landing in the New World.
“Columbus is a symbol for all immigrants,” he said, “and in particularly for Italians and Italian-Americans.”
The parade began at 1 p.m. outside City Hall. The hundreds of marchers from the nearly 60 different organizations that participated in the parade got into formation, readied their instrumentsand sheet music, and found their places in the backs of sports cars and trailers.
Of the dozens of people who lined up along Church Street and Chapel Street to watch the parade go by, many were parents looking out in support of their middle school children in one of the parade’s many marching bands.
Jessica Rodriguez held her phone up high and cheered as she watched her sixth-grade daughter march by in the Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School’s marching band.
“This brings the community together,” she said in praise of the parade.
Ramon and Denise Figueroa, looking out for their seventh-grade and eighth-grade sons in Nathan Hale School’s marching band, said that this was their first time at the parade, but that they planned to come back the next time it’s in New Haven.
As the various parade groups turned from Church Street onto Chapel, they were greeted by just handfuls of onlookers sparsely distributed between Church and State Street. But the relative quiet of the crowd didn’t deter the groups marching in the middle of the street.
The Mattatuck Drum Band pea-cocked their way through downtown, fifes in hand, drums around their waists, wearing bright red-and-navy wool uniforms.
The Nathan Hale School marching band followed close behind, students dressed in classic teenager uniforms of jeans and t-shirts as they bopped along with their saxophones and trumpets.
State Rep. Al Paollilo, Jr. and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro led the parade as its grand marshals, marching in step and waving to the crowd as DeLauro used one hand to push her grandson’s stroller.
The crowds picked up a bit as the parade made its way to Wooster Square, where it culminated before a stage set up right across from the park on Wooster Place.
Inside the park, a few hundred parade marchers and attendees stuck around for a cultural heritage festival that featured a falafel vendor, a pasta-making tutorial, an outdoor Irish pub, and a Mexican food truck.
The musical attractions on the stage set up at the middle of the park were equally eclectic, ranging from Tony Vermiglio crooning Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra covers to Scottesa Marks singing gospel music.
“Times are different, parades are different,” said Bill Iovanne, the organizer of the heritage festival and a native of Wooster Place.
He said he remembered growing up in the 1970s and gathering alongside thousands of fellow New Haveners who packed the sidewalks from Ella T. Grasso Boulevard to Wooster Square for each year’s Columbus Day parade. He said parades were a much bigger deal at that time in the city’s history, and that nearly every public school would participate.
But, he said, despite the Italian-American migration from New Haven to surrounding suburbs like East Haven and North Haven over the past several decades, he knows that the Elm City’s rich Italian-American history still has a powerful draw even for people who no longer live here.
“They always come home to Wooster Square,” he said.
“Is ‘Genocidist’ A Word?”
In the past decade, cities and states throughout the country have voted to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day in honor of this land’s Native American inhabitants and as a rebuke to European colonization represented by Christopher Columbus.
Although no cities or towns in Connecticut have yet voted to change the holiday’s name, the Board of Education in Bridgeport voted to do so in 2015, the New London school board voted to do so in 2016, and the West Hartford school board voted to do the same in March 2018.
“This parade is an all-inclusive parade,” New Haven Columbus Day Parade Chairperson Laura Florio Luzzi said before the parade kicked off outside of City Hall. However, she said, she opposes changing the holiday’s name to honor indigenous people instead of Christopher Columbus.
“We realize that Native Americans were here before us,” she said, “but we want to recognize what Christopher Columbus has done for our country, opening our eyes to different arts and engineering and science.”
She said that many nationalities get to celebrate their cultural heritages with public parades and holidays, and suggested that native people select another day of the year for an official Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration.
Wooster Square resident Michael Honhongva said he stopped by the festival after hearing the parade and musical performances from his apartment near Wooster Square park.
When asked what he most associates with Christopher Columbus, the California native asked, “Is ‘genocidist’ a word?”
“It starts a useful conversation about how we identify in our communities,” he said about the parade and festival. “I don’t identify with this. But I can still participate in it.” Nevertheless, he told the Independent, he does not support the festival and is curious as to why some Wooster Square residents identify with Columbus.
Click on the Facebook Live videos below to watch portions of Sunday’s Columbus Day Parade.
“This parade is an all-inclusive parade,” New Haven Columbus Day Parade Chairperson Laura Florio Luzzi said before the parade kicked off outside of City Hall. However, she said, she opposes changing the holiday’s name to honor indigenous people instead of Christopher Columbus.“We realize that Native Americans were here before us,” she said, “but we want to recognize what Christopher Columbus has done for our country, opening our eyes to different arts and engineering and science.”
Columbus did do a lot for this country. He was the first Euro terrorist to attack the New World.Christopher Columbus was a racist murdering colonist.It is disgraceful that we have a Columbus Day holiday today. It should be abolished.
A Young People’s History Of The United States - Chapter 1: Columbus And The Indians Howard Zinn
Arawak men and women came out of their villages onto the beaches. Fu neklmdpdfsfc Columbus and his soldiers came ashore, carrying swords, the Arawaks ran to greet them. Columbus later wrote about the Indians in his ship’s log: They . . . brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned. . . . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features. . . . They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They had no iron. Their spears are made of cane. . . . They would make fine servants. . . . With fifty men we could subjugate [over power] them and make them do whatever we want.
posted by: Bill Saunders on October 7, 2018 7:23pm
A Local Bank was sensitive enough to post ‘We will be closed for Indigenous Peoples Day’.
If kids are being dressed in the ‘garb of the day’ in celebration of some kind of ‘diversity’, they are also celebrating tacitly promoting the genocide wielded behind those ‘outfits’.
The organizers should take the lead here on the rebranding of a murderous Italian Icon.
posted by: Howudoin on October 7, 2018 7:43pm
I’m sure you are sitting in your modernized upscale downtown apartment or on your Apple PC or your smartphone eating sushi while writing down this garbage. Columbus did what every discoverer did. He did things the way he needed things to be done and TODAY , YOU , ME, and EVERYONE ELSE ARE BENEFITING FROM IT. Had he not, you would not be. Don’t hate. Be grateful. Thank you Columbus for doing what you did for so many. You , yes you were the beginning of greatness for this, the GREATEST PLACE ON EARTH.
posted by: Bill Saunders on October 7, 2018 8:00pm
What kind of Holiday is this anyways? Everybody I know still has to work…...
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 7, 2018 9:08pm
posted by: Howudoin on October 7, 2018 8:43pm
Columbus did what every discoverer did. He did things the way he needed things to be done and TODAY , YOU , ME, and EVERYONE ELSE ARE BENEFITING FROM IT. Had he not, you would not be. Don’t hate. Be grateful. Thank you Columbus for doing what you did for so many. You , yes you were the beginning of greatness for this, the GREATEST PLACE ON EARTH.
For real.Let us take a look at what he did for so many..
•Forced hard labor. •Abducting and selling children into the sex trade as young as nine-years-old. •Mass raping of women and children. •The amputation of limbs if slaves were not producing ‘enough’. •Labelled as hostile savages if not in complete compliance with their oppressors. Buried alive or burnt alive if you were resistant to the conquerors demands. •Offering cash rewards for the scalps of men, women, and children as proof of murder. •Intentionally spreading smallpox disease, an early means of biological warfare. •Forced removal from homes and land onto small reservations with barren, unlivable conditions. •Death marches of more than one-thousand miles to these reservations in which, if you were unable to continue the walk, you were left for dead and unable to assist dying family members. •On these same reservations “reserved” for the indigenous people, once this land was deemed valuable, the reservation agreement was broken and they were forced to move once again. All 370 treaties signed between the U.S Government and Indian nations have been broken by the United States.
Yeh, uh, no. Get your facts straight. If you truly believed that, then your a hypocrite. And/or no different than this “murderous moron”. If this way of life for us was ill gotten then you should be ashamed of yourself for complaining yet benefiting from it. And again, how Columbus did it was NO different than any other discoverer. Also, I wonder how a small army like that of Columbus took over a huge land mass like ours and up against the likes of native warriors that protected their way of life. I really don’t think things are depicted accurately in your comment. You should stop reading Wikipedia and learn the truth.
posted by: BevHills730 on October 7, 2018 10:12pm
Bill and 3/5’s are right! It’s time for New Haven to move on.
posted by: Bill Saunders on October 8, 2018 2:09am
That is a very entertaining and educational clip. Adam DOES ruin everything! (I don’t know how you do it, I can rarely slip youtube videos ‘in’, especially something so mainstream)
Everyone should click.
Great link, 3/5th’s!!!
(being born in Sleepy Hollow on Halloween, I take umbrage to Washington Irving’s ‘reported’ involvement in the myth.)
I’m gonna go bowling and sleep for thirty years….
posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 8, 2018 6:16am
Howudoin, Columbus was a tyrant who oppressed colonists as well as indigenous people. He was arrested by the Spanish government and returned to Spain in chains in 1500. Can you name another explorer that had a similar experience?
There are many reasons to celebrate Italian-American culture and history. Columbus is not one of them.
posted by: Paul Wessel on October 8, 2018 7:57am
posted by: LivingInNewHaven on October 8, 2018 8:13am
Only in the US is there a parade celebrating a #rapist, #murderer, #liar and #thief. The comment from the parade chair is disgusting, but not surprising. Her comment represents a common theme from those living that #privileged life…blinders, clueless, selfish. The acceptance of this man and his legacy is exactly in line with the acceptance of Brett Cavanaugh,a sexual predator…. 🤮🤢😢💔
posted by: robn on October 8, 2018 9:48am
Since Brett Kavanaugh just got appointed to SCOTUS, we should just roll this all into one big national rapist day parade.
posted by: wendy1 on October 8, 2018 10:12am
Columbus was a great navigator but a lousy humanitarian.
The parade had many folks marching in 80 degree weather wearing heavy woolen period clothing. Standing in the park area I saw many exhausted folks at the end of their tether. I offered assistance where I could. I was glad to see many of my neighbors out and about and smiling.
posted by: 1644 on October 8, 2018 10:21am
Living: Columbus Day was an official holiday in many parts of Latin America before it was in the US, and is still celebrated in many Hispanic countries. I recall my father returning from a trip to Lonquimay, Chile, an area dominated by indigenous peoples, with photographs of the Columbus Day parade and celebration. My initial, childish reaction was, why would they celebrate a US holiday, and then, with some prompting from my father, realized Columbus was more integral to South America than he was to the US. Making Columbus Day a holiday was a way for Italian immigrants to weave their own heritage into this country’s foundational myths, which hitherto were anglo-centric, Jamestown and Plymouth.
Listen up all of you Wiki scholars, it’s pretty simple. If you deny the fact that EVERY country and or continent was overthrown by another government , army, military than you are in complete denial. If you have joined the left bandwagon of tearing down statues and monuments then yes, bashing Columbus is the thing for you. Did Columbus commit murder/partial genocide and many atrocities to complete his “takeover of the Americas/Haiti/Bahamas and several other islands? Yes. But that is the process. No different than any other takeover. Go ahead read all of that Wikipedia stuff you guys like and it will show-this is common practice, while ugly-common. I guess Obama’s continuation of war in the Middle East puts him in the same company as Columbus. So must we not celebrate Obama? This is your thinking. Obama’s military killed for less than what Columbus did. For 8 years Obama remained in the Middle East - but you lefty’s will never agree. All one sided. Thank you Columbus for doing what you had to do. We are all benefiting from it now.
posted by: newhavenlives on October 8, 2018 11:17am
Strawman Howudoin- There ain’t no Obama Day Parade nor will there be any national celebration for President Obama of similar scale in our lifetime. Just stop it.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 8, 2018 11:23am
posted by: Howudoin on October 8, 2018 11:26am Listen up all of you Wiki scholars, it’s pretty simple. If you deny the fact that EVERY country and or continent was overthrown by another government , army, military than you are in complete denial. If you have joined the left bandwagon of tearing down statues and monuments then yes, bashing Columbus is the thing for you. Did Columbus commit murder/partial genocide and many atrocities to complete his “takeover of the Americas/Haiti/Bahamas and several other islands? Yes.
But are there Holidays name for other terrorist? Is there a Holiday for Hilter?The point is why in this country is there a Holiday for a terrorist?Would Italians have a holiday for Benito Mussolini who Destroyed Italy.
posted by: TheMadcap on October 8, 2018 3:49pm
“Columbus did what every discoverer did”
Dude, Columbus was sent back to Spain in chains to face trial because his governorship of Hispaniola was so brutal both to the natives and the Spanish workers. Columbus was terrible even by his own time standards
posted by: Kevin McCarthy on October 8, 2018 5:24pm
3/5tns, you will appreciate this. There is a street in downtown Chicago named after Italo Balbo, who was a Marshall in Mussolini’s Air Force. There recently was a proposal to rename the street after Ida B. Wells, a name you recognize and one everyone should. The proposal was dropped in face of opposition from some local Italian-Americans. The good news is that Congress Drive, a nearby, longer street , will be renamed after Wells.
posted by: BranfordResident_2 on October 8, 2018 8:47pm
Howudouin Not sure if you’re referring to the USA as the greatest place on Earth due to CC because if you are He never set foot in the USA . He never set foot in North America. His “exploration “ was of Caribbean islands and the coasts of South and Central America. Hence why many like myself speak the language of our colonizers that financially funded those voyages-Spanish not Italian.
posted by: JCFremont on October 9, 2018 6:36am
Well there are statues to Caesar, Alexander, probably one or two of Ghengis Khan somewhere in the world. Boycott Little Ceasars? Just like everybody else Native people where having their own forms of “Genocides” and wars before Columbus arrived.
posted by: JCFremont on October 9, 2018 7:36am Well there are statues to Caesar, Alexander, probably one or two of Ghengis Khan somewhere in the world. Boycott Little Ceasars? Just like everybody else Native people where having their own forms of “Genocides” and wars before Columbus arrived.
But are there Holidays name after any of them?
posted by: JCFremont on October 9, 2018 10:20am
Well I suppose they could rename it Amerigo Vespucci Day so to keep with the Italian portion of the holiday and not have to renegotiate the loss of a federal and state holiday. How about as a protest of Columbus students and teachers WALK IN to school and give up the day off?
posted by: EastCoast25 on October 9, 2018 2:46pm
I co-sign everything 3/5 has written. Columbus was a thief, rapist and murderer. Period. The fact that we are even having this debate - about FACTS - is more support for rewriting our history books to teach people the truth.
Seriously, how is this still a thing?
posted by: redman on October 10, 2018 6:00am
The comments about Columbus just prove that liberalism is a mental disease.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 10, 2018 6:51pm
posted by: redman on October 10, 2018 7:00am The comments about Columbus just prove that liberalism is a mental disease.
And those who do not see the facts about Columbus just prove that they are the One’sa with the mental disease.