Pittsburgh Columbus Day Parade features cultural mix and protesters | TribLIVE.com

Pittsburgh Columbus Day Parade features cultural mix and protesters

Bob Bauder
Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
Organizations from across the region celebrated their Italian heritage during Pittsburgh’s annual Columbus Day Parade on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019.
Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
Grant Cox, 1, and sister Vivian, 3, get a close-up view of Greek dancers and the candy they were tossing during Pittsburgh’s Columbus Day Parade on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019.
Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
Steelers Hall of Famer Franco Harris is a traditional participant in Pittsburgh’s annual Columbus Day Parade. He greeted Carla Lucente, a Duquesne University professor, while riding in the parade on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019.

Maria Mastrantonio was among the hundreds who turned out on Saturday for Pittsburgh’s annual Columbus Day Parade and said it was comparable to the one in her hometown of Buffalo, N.Y.

“I came for the parade, and then we have him here,” she said, nodding to her son, Antonio, who lives in Point Breeze. “It’s real nice.”

Canceled last year after the death of organizer Hank Blum, the parade returned to Bloomfield this year with its usual array of Italian organizations and musicians, plus groups including Greek, Latino, Caribbean, African-American, German and Polish dancers and bands.

It also featured the usual protesters.

“We don’t want to get into the politics of what people think or don’t think about Columbus,” said Guy Costa of Squirrel Hill, one of the parade organizers. “This is a day for Italian Americans as well as other ethic groups to celebrate their proud traditions and heritage. We have protesters every year.

“Actually, they’re not helping their cause. They just get the Italian community fired up and so you get more supporters for Columbus Day.”

He vowed the parade would return in 2020 and remain the Columbus Day Parade, despite calls for changing the name.

People attending the parade echoed Costa, saying they were there to celebrate Italian heritage.

Tom Yargo of Brighton Heights said his family was made up of Italian and Irish immigrants.

“Pittsburgh knows how to celebrate its cultural diversity,” he said.

Carla Lucente, a professor at Duquesne University, said she attends the parade every year.

“Columbus opened the doors to all of the other immigrants,” she said. “He brought the people.”

Keri and Matthew Cox of Coraopolis brought their daughter and son, Vivian, 3, and Grant, 1, for the festivities and to experience live music. The kids were excited about the candy that groups were tossing to the crowd.

“We wanted the kids to experience the return of the parade,” Matthew said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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