Columbus Day Parade kicks off in Chicago at Grant Park

October 14, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The 61st Annual Columbus Day Parade stepped off in Grant Park at Balbo Drive and travels north on Columbus Drive to Monroe Street.

"I grew up coming to this parade annually, so it's become an annual thing for my children and they look forward to it," Patricia Schafer said.

"I do the drums so I like watching the drums. I like seeing cool cars go by and seeing some of my relatives and my mom and dad's friends," Michael Schafer said.

The parade celebrates Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas in 1492 and Chicago's rich Italian-American history and culture.

"It's a day to celebrate our heritage, but it's also a day to celebrate everybody's heritage. Columbus didn't just discover America for a bunch of Italians, he discovered it for everybody," Louis Rago said.

The parade is dedicated to Chicago actor Dennis Farina, who died in July.

Grand Marshal is Michael W. Ferro Junior, chairman of Chicago Sun-Times, and the honorary parade marshal is Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown. Columbus Day Parade Queen Victoria Martello, of Oak Park, was chosen by the Joint Civil Committee of Italian Americans, which sponsors the parade.

"My reign has really been about serving our community and giving our Italian heritage a good name and embracing our culture and it's been really wonderful truly," Martello said.

Also on Monday, a special Mass at Our Lady of Pompei Church was followed by a procession to the Columbus Statue in Arrigo Park.

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