YONKERS, N.Y. – The Santa Maria sailed through a sea of green, white and red Sunday as Yonkers celebrated its Italian roots.
Riding aboard his infamous ship, Christopher Columbus led the city’s 85th annual Columbus Day Parade, a celebration of the explorer’s arrival in the Americas and the Italian-American heritage. Behind him, school children, marching bands and even stilt walkers made their way through East Yonkers while dozens lined the streets to catch of glimpse of the action.
“It’s a day to support the community and the Italian organizations,” said Angela Sorgi, a Yonkers native who made the trip from Eastchester to watch her mother ride in the parade. “And it’s about our heritage as well.”
Parade marchers kicked-off the afternoon festivities on the corner of Seminary and Yonkers avenues. There, they were welcomed by waving crowds before marching through the festive green, white and red flags hanging from houses along the parade route.
But you didn’t have to be Italian to enjoy the celebration.
“What’s the old saying – that on St. Patrick’s Day everyone is Irish for a day? Well I guess today everyone is Italian for the day,” parade-goer Lori Fulham said with a laugh.
While the Columbus Day Parade isn’t the biggest parade of the year in Yonkers, Ray Murphy said he enjoyed the low-key atmosphere.
“It’s neat,” Murphy said, sitting along Seminary Avenue with his wife and two children. “It’s really a neighborhood parade.”
Before the parade, Italians celebrated a ceremonial raising of their nation’s flag Sunday morning at Yonkers City Hall. The day’s festivities capped off a weekend that organizers said was the biggest celebration of Italian-American heritage in Yonkers.
“It’s a great way to kick off our Italian Heritage Month and celebrate Columbus Day,” the city’s Columbus Day Committee Chairperson Robert Ferrito said last week.