On Monday Chicago held its 65th annual Columbus Day Parade where attendees commemorated Christopher Columbus’ arrival in America through colorful dance troupes, parade floats and bands.
Outside of the event’s sizable and excited crowd, which ran between Wacker Drive and Van Buren St., observance of the holiday was met with some indifference and indignation from city residents and tourists.
“It wasn’t a holiday for me,” said Kenny Singh, 27, of New York City, gesturing to his bright blue scrubs.
“I mean, it’s a day off,” said Alice Zielinski, 50, of Palos Hills, Illinois. She expressed no motivation to criticize the system that guaranteed her a break from work. “I’m all for this holiday… It’s been a tradition for so many years. Why take it away?”
Others took offense at the premise of the holiday.
“I’m actually Puerto Rican, and it’s kind of sick to think of what he did to my ancestors,” said Bolivia Reyes, a 19-year-old college student from Cudahy, Wisconsin. “I’m kind of shocked it’s still a holiday.”
In 1992, Berkeley, California became the first American city to rename the holiday “Indigenous People’s Day” to celebrate Native American and Latin American populations. Since then, Running Strong for American Indian Youth reports that 55 other municipalities have taken after Berkeley’s example.
Just this year, Columbus, Ohio called off the annual celebration of its namesake due to a lack of funding. It’s likely that other cities will follow suit.
“Ultimately,” said Howard Fisher, 80, of Fort Walton Beach, Florida. “The world will go on without Columbus Day.”