Columbus Day Preview a Mixed Bag of Parades, Events and Protests With AM-Columbus Daze, Bjt
Undated (AP) _ Five centuries after Christopher Columbus landed in the New World, American descendants of the explorer held a festival. Opponents built a display criticizing the horrors of conquest.
Other events Sunday reflected mixed opinions about the mariner once only glorified by history books for his watershed discovery. American Indian groups and others now blast Columbus for exploiting native peoples.
″The opportunity in 1992 is educational, to look back over 500 years at the values and visions that shaped America,″ said Christopher Lee, whose great grandmother was the niece of a known Columbus descendant. ″We learn from the past, both the accomplishments and the mistakes.
″Meeting new people in new places and killing them; let’s not do that,″ he said.
The family inherited the chapel of the Columbus Castle in Spain around the turn of the century and the chapel was shipped to the United States and rebuilt in Boalsburg, Pa. It houses artwork, swords, statues and Columbus’ desk.
Members of Penn State’s African Student Association erected a display in front of the family mansion criticizing Columbus for exploiting natives and importing slavery to the Americas.
In New York, Hispanics celebrated Columbus Day with a parade down Fifth Avenue. Thousands of spectators lined sidewalks. Colorful floats and dancers in traditional Latin American costumes took part.
A second parade celebrating Columbus’ Italian roots was scheduled for Monday, the anniversary of the sailor’s arrival in the Americas.
Philadelphia played down the controversial and played up the whimsical Sunday in honoring Columbus with a parade that featured buggies, bicycles, submarines and ″hogs.″
The parade had two themes: ethnic diversity and transportation over the past 500 years.
Parade organizers showed off hundreds of modes of transportation: grand horse-drawn carriages, Amish-style buggies, penny-farthing bicycles and customized motorcycles known as ″hogs.″
A tricycle with 12 seats rolled by as did a bike powered by eight people sitting in a circle. An antique ice wagon, old and new electric-powered vehicles, an M-42 tank, eight DeLorean cars with their gull-wing doors open and a Toro lawn mower brigade also delighted the crowd.
Operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti served as grand marshal for the parade, which was held on his birthday. Pavarotti, 57, rode in an open carriage, wearing a heavy coat and a multicolored scarf.
″I think he’s protecting his throat - he’s very conscious of that,″ said spectator Florence Solomon.
In San Francisco, thousands of people opposed to celebrating Columbus marched and rallied. A planned re-enactment of his landing did not take place as chanting demonstrators gathered on the city’s waterfront.
″This is to protest the lies that have been said throughout history about Columbus being this great man who discovered America,″ said Brenda Sandburg of the All Peoples Congress, one of the groups sponsoring the protest.
″He didn’t come here to discover America. He invaded it. ... He committed genocide against the Native American people,″ she said.
A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a police car, but no one was hurt. Forty people were arrested, some suspected in the firebomb tossing, others for allegedly interfering with the march or getting too rowdy.
In upstate New York, Cornell University held a three-day conference on ″The State of Indian America,″ attended by Indian leaders from North, South and Central America.
″This celebration brings a great deal of pain to us,″ said Nunkuan Calixto, an Aguaruna Indian from Peru.
In Nebraska, fifth-graders at Edison School in York recently debated whether to celebrate Columbus Day.
″He as greedy and inconsiderate and he didn’t care about anyone but himself,″ said Keshara Poland.
″He brought over diseases,″ said Andrew Scamehorn.
In Eugene, Ore., members of 20 tribes gathered.
″For many of our tribes, Columbus Day is a day of mourning,″ said Twila Souers, director of the Eugene Indian Education Program.
″If we celebrate anything at all, it’s that we survived 500 years of oppression,″ she said.