Is Columbus Day Sailing Off the Calendar?
WALL STREET JOURNAL - October 10, 2009
By CONOR DOUGHERTY and SUDEEP REDDY
Arrivederci, Columbus Day.
The tradition of honoring Christopher Columbus for sailing the ocean blue in 1492 is facing rougher seas than the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria.
Philadelphia's annual Columbus Day parade has been canceled. Brown University this year renamed the holiday "Fall Weekend" following a campaign by a Native American student group opposed to celebrating an explorer who helped enslave some of the people he "discovered."
And while the Italian adventurer is generally thought to have arrived in the New World on Oct. 12, 517 years ago on Monday, his holiday is getting bounced all over the calendar. Tennessee routinely celebrates it the Friday after Thanksgiving to give people an extra-long weekend.
"You can celebrate the hell out of it if you get it the day after Thanksgiving -- it gives you four days off," says former Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter.
In California, Columbus Day is one of two paid holidays getting blown away by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of a budget-cut proposal. In Washington, D.C., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid canceled this year's weeklong Columbus Day recess so the senators can buckle down on health care. (They still get Monday off, though.)
Ground zero of the Columbus battle has been Colorado, home to the nation's first official Columbus holiday about a century ago. Columbus Day parades in Denver have faced acrimonious protests for much of the past decade. Marchers have been on the receiving end of dismembered dolls and fake blood strewn across the parade route. Dozens of protesters have been arrested over the years.
This year, the attacks took a new twist: A prankster sent an email to local media -- purporting to be from parade organizers -- saying the event had been canceled.
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