NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s another sign of New York’s recovery from the pandemic.

The world’s largest celebration of Italian-American heritage has returned to the streets of New York City Monday.

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The Columbus Day Parade marched up Fifth Avenue.

(credit: CBS2)

As CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reports, the parade got moving at 11:30 a.m. Organizers expected a million people to line the route and join in the world’s largest celebration of Italian-American heritage.

Italian flags and proud Italian-Americans lined Fifth Avenue today to show pride of culture. The grand ,arshall, Michael Pascucci, officers on horseback, cars, marching bands, and more.

The parade includes 35,000 participants, traveling from 47th to 72nd street to share their love of all things Italian with New York City.

This is tradition. President Benjaming Harrison signed the law creating the holiday in 1892, a year after 11 Italian immigrants were lynched in New Orleans, and at a time when Italians in America faced discrimination.

(credit: CBS2)

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Columbus was commissioned by Queen Isabella of Spain, and after Columbus, many Spanish explorers followed, bringing Hispanic culture, language, and religion to Mexico, the Caribbean, and South and Central America.

Monday marked the 77th annual Columbus Day Parade, and those Murdock spoke with are thrilled to be back together to celebrate.

“This is the moment of the heart, to see each other in the eyes. To touch. You know how we Italian we are, we miss this direct contact,” said Francesca Aldirese, an Italian senator representing who comes every year, celebrating the love she has for Italians abroad.

“It’s very special, because I’ve been marching in this parade since I’m about 3 years old when my father was a police officer. So I carried on the tradition. I have never missed one parade in 39 years, said Paul DiGiacomo, president of Detectives Endowment Association, representing more than 19,000 detectives in NYC.

(credit: CBS2)

“He was the great explorer. If it weren’t for him, where would we be today? We have to remember that,” said Aldo Verelli, chairman of the Columbus Citizens Parade.

“See some floats marching bands, its going to be a fun time,” said Lake Grove resident Veronica Marino.

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Columbus Day continues to be a controversial celebration for many. On October 11, many people in our area and across the country are also observing Indigenous People’s Day.