NEW YORK (CBS 2/AP/1010 WINS) –A splash of political controversy marked the annual Columbus Day Parade, which featured more than 100 bands, floats and contingents, along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
Two gay Democrats, Assemblyman Thomas Duane and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, said just before Monday’s parade that Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino should apologize for his remarks about gay culture.
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Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo called his opponent’s comments about homosexuals “reckless” in light of recent violence. Paladino said he stands up for the rights of everyone, including gay people, and abhors anti-gay violence.
But despite the political fireworks, there was plenty more to celebrate under Monday’s sunny skies.
For the first time, the Milana family of Muttontown, Tom and Adriana and their five daughters, were on the Columbus Citizens Foundation Float thinking about their ancestors.
“They just came to this country with nothing and they worked really hard,” said Tom Milana. He pointed to his daughters, and said “these are the next generation right here.”
“We’re full of love and passion. We are about family, food and celebration,” said Adriana Milana.
There were more than 35,000 marchers, more than 100 bands and more than a million spectators, all celebrating the exact same thing.
“It gives me a great sense of pride. I’m proud of my heritage. I’m proud to be an American foremost however, but I am proud of my roots, my heritage, my grandparents who were very brave in coming to a new land.” said Marie Tufo.
The Lindenhurst High School band came in third in last year’s parade competition, so drum major Phil Abbruscato was prouder than ever. “I have the red hair, so most people don’t take me for being Italian, but I full of Italian pride, full of the culture. I love Sunday dinners grandma’s house, 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Typical Italian. Great thing,” he said.