2014 Columbus Day Parade

October 12, 2014

In 1934 President Roosevelt proposed that the second Monday in October be designated Christopher Columbus Day in honor of the man who discovered the New World. Congress enacted the proposal and in 1970 the second Monday in October was declared a National Holiday. Columbus deserves to be honored. He was the Neil Armstrong of his day. He was an outstanding Leader, mathematician, and navigator. He knew the odds; he had the skills; he took the risk; and he discovered America. Since 1934, Columbus Day has taken on several meanings. In San Francisco the day has been chosen to honor American citizens of Italian Heritage and to celebrate loyalty to a Nation and social progress.

This year, as in most years, Columbus Day is celebrated in conjunction with Fleet Week, the Blue Angels, and tours of the newest Navy ships. Why? Because the founding of the United States Navy was on October 13, 1775. So we get a two-for-one weekend.

‘The Columbus Day Parade is where we join in. Our Club helps promote the Young Men’s Institute (YMI). The Young Men’s Institute is a fraternal organization founded in 1883 at Saint Joseph’s Hall near 10th and Howard Streets. Their mission is to promote mutual aid and loyalty to the country. There are thousands of members worldwide. Each year we field four to six Model A’s and several additional Club cars. We start the celebration in the staging area with fresh foccacia, prosciutto and melon, and several great wines provided by Paula and Bob Fiorito. Bob and Paula are our sponsors. They secure our position in the parade and provide pre-parade food and wine. Each car is decorated with balloons in Italian colors (red, white, and green), Italian flags, and magnetic signs promoting YMI. We are happy and colorful.

The parade starts at noon and winds through Fisherman’s Wharf and then up Columbus Street to Washington Square. A crowd of people line the sidewalks. Linen covered tables extend across the sidewalks and into the streets leaving one lane open for the parade to pass. The atmosphere is electric and all Italian. Some of the dignitaries present include Christopher Columbus, Emperor Norton, and I think I saw queen Isabella.

Food fills the tables and wine flows like water. One San Francisco Police officer commented as we drove by, “This is the only time and place that drinking and driving is permitted.” The truth is that none of the drivers were drinkers and most of the glasses we held were for the cameras. I can’t say as much for the passengers. Some in my car got a little sideways before the parade was over.

Since I spent some time discussing wine, it is appropriate that I finish with a toast. Here is to the people who made the day - the Angels overhead - Here is to the people who lined the route with flags of green and red - Here is to the old people who drive the cars and went home straight to bed!

It was a good time.

Photos by Dave & Marilyn Chiotti