Val Warner, Ryan Chiaverini host parade broadcast on ABC7
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A big crowd filled downtown Chicago on Monday afternoon for the city's annual Columbus Day parade.
The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, which serves the Chicagoland area, welcomed all to this year's parade. The day began with a Mass at the shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii and then a wreath laying ceremony in Arrigo Park.
Many attendees then made their way to the 70th annual Columbus Day parade, hosted by ABC7 Chicago's Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini, that kicked off in the Loop at 1 p.m.
WATCH | ABC7 broadcasts Chicago's Columbus Day Parade
Meanwhile, many are also celebrating Indigenous People's Day.
A two-day festival got underway in Chicago on Sunday at the Logan Square Auditorium, showcasing indigenous artists. Monday's performances will move to the Old Town School of Folk Music. Organizers said Chicago is home to 75,000 tribal members.
Columbus Day has become a controversial holiday over the years as people push to remove statues of Christopher Columbus and rename the holiday.
Several cities are opting no longer to celebrate it, and some big name politicians stayed out of the parade Monday.
Indigenous People's Day arose as an alternative to Columbus Day. Native Americans have protested, saying Columbus represents the violent history of colonization in the western hemisphere.
"People have to understand this icon is important to us and every other group would want to respect their icons, heroes and traditions," Onesti said. "We are just asking for the same thing."
Community leaders gathered Monday in Rogers Park to talk about Indigenous People's Day.
"If you look at history, and you look at his own journals, the atrocities and the cruelty against Native American people is atrocious. So he should not be honored," said Les Begay, co-founder of the Indigenous People's Development Center. "This has never been an anti-Italian movement. It's an anti-Columbus movement."
Meanwhile, the Columbus Day Parade is in its 70th year in Chicago, and Italian Americans say it's all about celebrating their traditions.
"The controversy that surrounds Columbus Day is very heartbreaking for us because what Columbus has come to represent are generations of traditions. It's something important to our ethnic group," Onesti said.
Because of the controversy, The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans invited more than 25 other ethnic groups to participate in the parade.
"We think that every nation that comes to the United States should have their own place and tradition and what they believe should be respected," said Anna Krysinski, with Polish American Congress.
Costumes from Poland, the Philippines and Mexico did not go unnoticed by spectators. Much of the parade route was lined with visitors in town for the Chicago Marathon.
This year's Columbus Day Parade was dedicated to the memory of Angelo and Romana Caputo.
Angelo Caputo was the founder of the grocery store chain bearing his last name.