The largest U.S. city named after Christopher Columbus has decided against celebrating Columbus Day.
Columbus, Ohio’s mayor’s office said recently that it will be open for business and will not observe Columbus Day. Instead, the city will close its offices on Veterans Day on November 12, according to a report from a local NBC News affiliate. It’s likely the first time in the city’s history that it hasn’t observed Columbus Day, a spokesperson for the mayor told NBC News.
Columbus Day, which is being observed today, has proven to be one of the more controversial holidays in recent years. Many cities, including Los Angeles and now Columbus, among others, have either stopped observing the holiday or changed it to Indigenous Peoples Day to remember those who were negatively impacted by colonialism. Marches and other protests are also held each year on Columbus Day to fight the observance of the holiday.
Many Italian-American groups, however, have criticized the protests and said that Columbus Day is one of pride in their culture. Those groups often hold marches of their own to celebrate the holiday and their Italian heritage.
According to the NBC News report, Italian-American groups in the city were not given advance notice of the mayor Andrew Ginther’s decision. They told NBC News that the city could have used the day to unify people on both sides of the debate.
“If you’re mayor of a city and its name is Columbus, why wouldn’t you capitalize on that? Use it to unite everybody,” Joseph Contino, an organizer for the Columbus Italian Festival, told NBC News. “Use this day to celebrate the entire culture, celebrate Italians and indigenous both.”