American history on parade Italian, Spanish groups join Columbus Day event

October 13, 1997|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

Hundreds of Baltimoreans cheered marching bands, dignitaries and floats yesterday commemorating Christopher Columbus' journey to the Americas in the 1997 version of the nation's oldest consecutively held Columbus Day parade.

Walking around the Inner Harbor under clear, sunny skies, Antonio Oyarzabal, the Spanish ambassador to the United States, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and dozens of representatives from local Italian-American and Hispanic groups -- Columbus was Italian and Spain paid for his voyage in 1492 -- marked the day. of the first confirmed European landing in what became known as America.

The parade started at 2 p.m. at Key Highway and Covington Street and ended about an hour later at President and Fleet streets.

Representatives from the Sons of Italy and the Appian Society played Italian music and wore Italian clothing of the time of Columbus. Two floats designed to resemble 17th-century sailing vessels, complete with men dressed like Columbus and his crew, motored past.

"This is just beautiful, very festive," said Sarah Waddy of Dundalk, whose granddaughter played clarinet in the Parkville High School marching band, which took part in the parade.

"It's good to celebrate and good to look back at what did happen," she said. "It helps to improve the future."

Yesterday's event was the 105th Baltimore Columbus Day parade, officials said.

Miss Little Italy waved to crowds from the back of a silver Mercedes convertible, and high school marching bands from the Baltimore area and parts of Pennsylvania participated.

Representatives of more than a dozen Central and South American countries also marched, waving flags and bearing banners.

"A day of many races as one," read one Spanish-language banner.

Kenwood High School in Essex played -- appropriately -- "It's a Small World."

Carole Weinberg of Randallstown, who clapped her hands to the music while standing on Light Street, said, "I'm very proud to be an American today. I'm not a flag-waver, but I thank goodness for America every day. And it couldn't be a prettier day to have an event like this."

Pub Date: 10/13/97

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