Italians, Italian-Americans and even Italian cars and scooters were out in full-force for Monday’s 65th Annual Columbus Day Parade sponsored by the Civic Committee of Italian Americans. Temperatures climbed into the mid-80s, drawing crowds to see the more than 150 floats, drill teams and marching bands make their way down State Street.
Gov. Bruce Rauner walked the parade route and said everyone is Italian on Columbus Day.
“We celebrate America — the greatest nation on earth — freedom and opportunity, and we also celebrate our Italian-American heritage,” Rauner said.
Besides the strong showing of Italian people and Italian-owned businesses, the parade also featured marchers representing other countries, including China, Ukraine and Argentina, dressed in traditional clothing and waving their flags.
As the parade was getting started, a group of protestors chanted and carried signs objecting to the holiday, which has come under scrutiny for honoring the legacy of Christopher Columbus and his arrival to the New World. Protestors want to call more attention to the issues of indigenous people and to change the holiday to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
Rauner appeared unfazed by the protestors.
“What’s wonderful about America is freedom of speech, freedom of the right to protest and debate ideas,” Rauner said.