New York City's Columbus Day Parade, an annual celebration of Italian-American heritage and pride, will be held virtually for the first time in its history.
The Columbus Citizens Foundation, which organizes the event held on Fifth Avenue that dates back to 1929, posted a video on YouTube announcing their decision to cancel the parade in lieu of a virtual experience.
"Due to COVID-19, we have decided in the best interest of our members, participants and spectator, not to have our parade as usual," said CCF Board Chairman and Chairman of the 2020 celebration, Angelo Vivolo.
"The Columbus Day Parade is the premiere event of Italian Heritage Month in New York City. THousands of New Yorkers look forward to marching, lining the parade route or watching us on television," said the non-profit's president, Marian Pardo. "We are producing a virtual parade. While we are still in the planning stages, we hope the virtual parade will still highlight many of the marching groups, performers, high schools and charitable organizations who have always been such enthusiastic participants."
Pardo said the group instead will revisit parades of the past, and talk with some of the former grand marshals of the parade — a list that includes the likes of Yogi Berra, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sophia Loren, Rudy Giuliani, Susan Lucci, Mario Andretti, Regis Philbin among many others. They also will look to feature Italian and Italian-American entertainers during the virtual presentation, Pardo said, hoping that this year will be "different but delightful."
"This has been a year of challenges for our Italian-American community and the country. But I promise we will be back bigger and better next year," said Vivolo.
According to CCF's website, the last time the parade wasn't held was back in 1983, when it was canceled due to the death of Cardinal Terence Cooke, who was the archbishop of New York.
The cancellation of the parade, which was scheduled for October 12, marks the latest cultural event to fall victim to the coronavirus, following the St. Patrick's Day Parade in March and Puerto Rican Day Parade in June. The West Indian American Day Parade, initially scheduled for Labor Day Weekend, will also be going virtual this year.