Christopher Columbus, an Italian navigator and explorer, dreamed of reaching Asia by sailing west through the Atlantic. Instead of reaching Asia, though, Columbus reached the Americas on October 12, 1492, landing on the shores of today's Bahamas. While others may have navigated these North American shores, Columbus was the first to make public this "new world".
The first recorded celebration of Columbus Day was in New York City in 1866 and the holiday was first proclaimed by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892, 400 years after the first landing in the New World by Columbus. Colorado was the first state to declare Columbus Day a holiday in 1906 with the holiday becoming statutory the following year. This was due in large part to the efforts of Angelo Noce, founder of the first Italian newspaper in the state, initiated in the 1880s. Traditionally Columbus Day is a celebration of ethnic pride and identity much like St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo.
In 1937 Franklin Roosevelt created the first federal observance of the holiday and 1972 Richard Nixon established Columbus Day as a "modern" holiday to be recognized on the second Monday of October. In Colorado the first Columbus Day Parade was held in Pueblo in 1900. In 1907 Denver held its Columbus Day parade with Angelo Noce serving as the grand marshall.
The highlight of Colorado Italian Heritage Month is the Columbus Day Parade. Held on a Saturday morning close to the National Holiday of Columbus Day, October 14th, the parade follows a route through downtown Denver. Floats, bands, dancing groups, and more from all over the Rocky Mountain region join the parade each year to celebrate the contributions of Italian Americans to our culture.
The Parade was sponsored over 100 years ago. The committee was registered in 2001 as a non-profit 501 (c) 3 with a mission of bringing an awareness of heritage to the community as well as planning, organizing and supporting the Denver Columbus Day Parade!