Although the focus of the Columbus Day Parade was on Italian-Americans, the 63rd edition of the parade brought many other cultures to State Street on Monday, as well.
Mexicans United for a Dream was led by a live band playing traditional Mexican music and closely followed by charros on their white, dancing horses. Bagpipes and Drums of the Emerald Society played Irish tunes, as the Thistle and Heathers Highland Dancers proudly represented Scottish dance.
“It’s great the kids had a day off from school to come see this,” said Kathy Mullen, who brought her two boys from the Lake View neighborhood. “I just hope it doesn’t start raining.”
Among the politicians marching in the parade were Gov. Bruce Rauner, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
This was the second year the parade was on State Street. It returned to that thoroughfare after a hiatus of 20-plus years, during which it was held on Columbus Drive.
Fernanda Lazaro, 25, who attended dressed in Native American attire, said more should be done on Columbus Day to represent cultures that were here before Christopher Columbus’ arrival.
“I’m here to honor these cultures,” she said. “The Native Americas were peaceful and they shared this land with us. We should celebrate that.”
She supports changing the name of the celebration to Indigenous Peoples Day, like other cities across the United States have done, including: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Olympia, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and St. Paul, Minnesota.
A small group of protesters were direct about their feelings toward the federal holiday, holding signs reading “genocide is nothing to celebrate” and “Abolish Columbus Day.”
Anthony Roy, 29, who runs a website dedicated to changing the logo of the Chicago Blackhawks, was among the group of protesters.
“Some people just don’t know their history,” he said. “It seems the only people that have learned from history are those scarred from it.”
A group of women standing in front of the protesters were not amused by their message. Nancy Buoni, 49, who is Irish, was at the parade supporting her two Italian friends. In turn, her friends accompany her to the St. Patrick’s Day parade. She said these parades are here to celebrate heritage.
“It needs to be done respectfully,” she said. “[The protesters] just need to leave it and go away.”