Defiant, proud Italian Americans celebrate Columbus Day

  • Beth Ann Iosco-Tarallo, 59, of Melrose Park, waves an Italian flag during the Columbus Day celebration Monday at Arrigo Park in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood.

    Beth Ann Iosco-Tarallo, 59, of Melrose Park, waves an Italian flag during the Columbus Day celebration Monday at Arrigo Park in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood. Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

 
 
Updated 10/12/2020 10:39 PM

They sang Italian love songs, warmth oozing from the loud speakers like a just-baked pan of mostaccioli.

They wore red-white-and-green face masks. And though their hero has been "temporarily" banished, they were defiant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We are keeping it positive, but that does not mean we are giving in," said Ron Onesti, vice president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, standing in Arrigo Park Monday morning. "You may take our statue, but you will neither destroy our faith nor harm our spirit."

A short while later, chants of "Put it back!" broke out among a gathering of several hundred clustered around a bare pedestal where a statue of Christopher Columbus once stood.

In the summer, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered the temporary removal of that statue, as well as two others, including one in Grant Park -- the site of major clashes between protesters and police. Protesters say, among other things, that Columbus is a symbol of white supremacy and that statues representing him should be removed.

• For the full report, visit chicago.suntimes.com.

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