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Thousands Line Fifth Avenue For Annual Columbus Day Parade

Parade Steps Off Without West Point Band Due To Government Shutdown

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) –  Italian-Americans celebrated their culture and heritage at the 69th Annual Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan.

Thousands lined the streets Monday along Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 72nd Street.

PHOTOS: 69th Annual Columbus Day Parade

“We try to come every year,” one paradegoer told CBS 2’s Steve Langford. “It’s a lot of fun for the kids and the adults.”

Other New Yorkers hit the parade route to simply take advantage of the nice weather.

“I’m just happy to see a parade, and it’s a good day for a parade,” one man said.

An astonishing number of people come from Italy for the parade. Langford spoke to people from Sicily, Milan and Venice, to name a few.

But not everyone was able to take part in the festivities.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota all marched in the parade, along with more than 35,000 other participants.

The parade’s grand marshal was renowned Wall Street financier and philanthropist Joseph Perella.

Colorful regalia for 2013 Columbus Day Parade (Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

Colorful regalia for 2013 Columbus Day Parade (Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

The West Point marching band, which is part of the U.S. Military Academy Band, was scheduled to lead the parade but was barred from marching due to the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Frank Fusaro, president of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, said parade organizers officially learned Friday that the band would not take part in the parade.

“The band is made up of active-duty soldiers who are also virtuosos from across the United States,” Fusaro said in a statement. “Historically, and for over two centuries, the band’s members have been ambassadors of our country. It is very regrettable that for reasons unrelated to their professionalism and commitment to our country that they are unable to perform on Fifth Avenue this Columbus Day.”

Fusaro said months before the shutdown, the Columbus Citizens Foundation had offered to pay for all costs for the band, including transportation, tolls and meals.

Leading the parade in its place was the Ohio Northern University Marching Band, known also as the Star of Northwest Ohio.

Catholics heading to the Columbus Day Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral early Monday morning also witnessed a special blessing.

The restored bronze doors at St. Patrick's Cathedral are seen on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 (credit: Rich Lamb/WCBS 880)

The restored bronze doors at St. Patrick’s Cathedral are seen on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 (credit: Rich Lamb/WCBS 880)

Cardinal Timothy Dolan blessed the cathedral’s restored bronze doors. They were re-installed last month.

Each door is more than 16 feet tall and weighs 9,000 pounds. They’re decorated with images of saints. The restoration of the doors took more than three months.

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