Italian Heritage Parade
Why do we love this Columbus Day parade? Let us count the ways: the giant Moretti Beer bottle; the S.F. Sanitary District Garbage Can Drill Team; the paisano rhythms of Frank, Dino, and Louis Prima blaring from every other sound system; the accordion players and the tarantella dancers; the free samples of Columbus salame; the grand climax when “Queen Isabella”'s ladies-in-waiting pile into the cab of the firetruck. The city's Italian-Americans have been celebrating their rich heritage in more or less this fashion since 1869, making this the oldest such extravaganza in the country. After “Christopher Columbus” steps ashore at Fisherman's Wharf (not exactly San Salvador, but close enough), the parade makes its way down Columbus Avenue and up around Washington Square for a final review by the queen herself, enthroned on the steps of Sts. Peter and Paul Church. Four hundred thousand people turn out each year to bask in the October sunshine, sip and nosh at the restaurants along the route, and enjoy the atmosphere of celebrazione.