Police Outnumber Columbus Day Parade Marchers

Banks Closed, No Mail Delivery Monday

Police outnumbered marchers at the annual Columbus Day parade Monday as most protesters kept their distance from what was changed into a walk for peace after last month's terrorist attacks.

About 40 people walked through downtown praying the rosary and holding paintings of the Virgin of Guadaloupe and small American flags. There were only two people holding Italian flags and no references to Christopher Columbus.

Daneen Olson, an Italian-American from Denver, wanted to pray for peace even though she had never joined previous Columbus Day parades. She planned to come before the United States began bombing targets in Afghanistan.

Olson does not believe killing is ever justified and also thinks Italian-Americans should reconsider continuing to march in honor of Columbus, a man who American Indian groups say was a slave trader responsible for killing indigenous people.

"I think it's important to be sympathetic to all people and if it's bothering American Indian people then we should stop," she said.

Italian-Americans maintain they have a right under the First Amendment to celebrate Columbus as part of their heritage.

Last year, 147 protesters were arrested after they blocked the parade, the city's first since 1991. An agreement that would have deleted references to Columbus in exchange for no protests collapsed at the last minute.

There were no arrests Monday, Capt. Marc Vasquez said.

At the State Capitol, about 750 American Indian and other activists from around the country gathered in favor of transforming Columbus Day into a national day of unity. As the walk passed by, a woman holding two signs chanted for the end of the holiday but the group did not respond.

Even after the parade committee decided to hold what they called "A National Day of Mourning" instead of a traditional parade, 10 Italian-American organizations decided to boycott. They argued it was not right to hold such a controversial event while the country was mourning.

Instead, those groups held a picnic fund-raiser for the firefighters and police officers killed in the attack on the World Trade Center.

One man who did not give his name left the start of the parade after a woman showed up with both an American flag and an Italian flag.

"If they want to be causing controversy, they can but it's not going to be with me," he said.

Rosanna Patrona-Aurand of Morrison, the woman who attached an Italian flag to her baby stroller, said she was proud to be an American but also thinks it's important to celebrate ethnicity.

"I think all of that contributes to America and I would hate to see that all disappear," she said.

Parade committee member C.M. Mangiaracina, who led the group along with a Roman Catholic priest, criticized the Italian-Americans who stayed away from the parade.

"I hope they choke on their sandwiches. They should have been here to pray with us," he said.

There were a number of events scheduled Monday, and many offices were closed. Here's a rundown:

COLUMBUS DAY EVENTS

8 a.m. - "Transform Columbus Day" protest at state Capitol.

10 a.m. - "Columbus Day 2001: A National Day of Mourning" procession and rosary to honor victims of terrorist attacks. Procession gathered at 15th and Welton streets and walked to the Denver City and County Building (pictured, right). The following Regional Transportation District bus routes will be detoured during the event: 0, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 15Ltd, 16, 20, 28, 32, 48, 52 and 83L.

11 a.m. - "Columbus Day of Remembrance" fundraiser for victims of terrorist attacks at Rocky Mountain Lake Park, northwest Denver. Candlelight vigil begins at 5 p.m. Proceeds go to Clear Channel Relief Fund.

COLUMBUS DAY CLOSURES:

All banks closed.

Post offices closed and there will be no mail delivery.

Colorado courts closed.

Denver trash collection will be on normal schedule.

RTD is running normal weekday schedule.

Attractions open Monday include the Colorado History Museum, Denver Zoo, Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Denver Botanic Gardens.

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