Chicago’s Columbus Day Parade was sparsely attended

Chicago Public School kids had class Monday

October 8, 2012

(WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)
Dominic and Michelangelo Scalera with their cousin Antonio Carulli. The Scaleras' father pulled them out of school to attend the Columbus Day Parade Monday.

Spectators at the annual Columbus Day Parade in Chicago Monday said attendance was sparse compared to previous years. There were children from the Chicago suburbs, Michigan and even Italy. But there weren’t many kids from Chicago at the parade.

Chicago Public Schools had class on Columbus Day.

But that didn’t stop parents like Michelangelo Scalera from taking his kids out of school. Scalera said the parade is a tradition for his Italian-American family.

“It’s our one day a year that we get to celebrate our ethnicity and heritage, so I had to pull ‘em out because this is something that we’ve been doing for years,” he said.

For several decades, the Chicago Columbus Day Parade has been organized by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans as a celebration of Italian-American cultural pride.

Earlier this year the Chicago Board of Education had angered Italian- and Polish-American groups by pushing to make Columbus Day and Pulaski Day into regular school days rather than holidays. The Chicago Teachers Union spoke out against the elimination of the days off, which was part of the board’s overall push for more classroom time for CPS students.

Under the new teachers’ contract negotiated last month, Columbus Day will again be a day off in 2013.