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Italian-American Pride Shines During Annual Columbus Day Parade

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Midtown became a sea of red, white and green Monday as the 69th annual Columbus Day Parade made its way up Fifth Avenue.

The world's largest celebration of Italian-American pride stretched from 47th Street up to 72nd Street.

More than 35,000 marchers took part in the parade, among them Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo and both candidates for mayor, Democrat Bill De Blasio and Republican Joseph Lhota.

Noticeably absent, though, was the West Point Marching Band, which had to cancel due to the ongoing government shutdown.

Philanthropist Joseph Perella served as grand marshal.

"It's a very, very proud day. I wish my parents could be here, but they're here in spirit," Perella said.

"We come every year. This is our celebration of culture, our heritage and we couldn't be happier to be anywhere else but here," said one parade goer.

Making its first appearance in the parade was the Born Brave Bus from the Born This Way Foundation, established by pop star and native New Yorker Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia, to combat bullying and more.

"To help youth better handle their struggles through empowering them with skills and opportunities and you know ultimately we would like to inspire them to help us create a kinder and a gentler society," said Cynthia Germanotta.

The Columbus Citizens Foundation has run the annual Columbus Day parade since 1929.

Monday's parade was the culmination of a weekend of events.

On Sunday, a wreath-laying ceremony at Columbus Circle continued a tradition which dates back to the 1920s.

It's the time when the city's Italian-Americans celebrate their role in New York history, and a legacy of civil service.

Italian-Americans in the Bronx also came together to celebrate their heritage in the borough's annual parade.

Organizers say it celebrates the Bronx's rich diversity.

They say it's not only about the voyage of Columbus in 1492, but the journey others took to America as well.

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