Christopher Columbus accidentally stumbled upon America while sailing untraveled waters five centuries ago.
Yesterday, however, the worn, heavily traveled streets of
Baltimore had to be blocked to make way for his modern counterpart, Donald Castranova, perched atop a parade float impersonating the man the city has been honoring annually for the last 100 years.
Castranova, a leader of a Baltimore Italian dance group called Balli D'Italia, was one of hundreds representing different cultures for the 100th Christopher Columbus parade, which focused on the theme of the city's ethnic diversity.
Led by the Naval Academy Band and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, a long line of musicians and dancers of Hispanic, Greek, Irish, Italian, Latin American, Middle Eastern and Asian origins paraded down Key Highway and Light and Pratt streets with high school and college marching bands yesterday.
Carmen Ciccone comes from Spain and lives in Vienna, Va. Yesterday she made her way to Baltimore to celebrate the man of whom she says she is a "big fan."
"We're celebrating Christopher Columbus," Ciccone said. "It's a
big celebration for us and for you Americans, too, as well as the rest of the world."
In her hot pink, polka-dotted flamenco-style dress, Ciccone, 44, paraded alongside a float with representatives of other Spanish-speaking countries.
One young participant, who was marching in front of the Amici Italian Folk Dancers, unwittingly caused some light political jabbing because of the Pinocchio nose protruding from his face.
Joe Knight, an announcer at the parade from 92 STAR radio station, chided politicians at the reviewing stand on Gay and Pratt streets, saying that the youngster must be "running for office, I think."
"Oh, that hurt," laughed Mayor Schmoke, who had taken a seat near the announcers.