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President Joins Columbus Day Festivities in NYC

Oct. 12, 1962 - A procession of thousands, including President Kennedy, moved up Fifth Avenue today in a five-hour salute to Christopher Columbus. He exchanged pleasant greetings in the Columbus Day Parade reviewing stand with Governor Rockefeller (left), who hopes to wrest the Presidency from him in 1964. Mr. Kennedy was the first President to appear in a Columbus Day parade in New York, although former Presidents participated in ceremonies apart from the parades. The line of march, which stretched from 44th to 82nd Street, was crowded most of the way. Mr. Kennedy, in an open convertible, was greeted by shouts, whistles, and applause. Later, in Newark, President Kennedy claimed descent from an old Venetian family, the “Geraldinis,” through his maternal grandfather, the late John F. Fitzgerald. “I have never had the courage to make this claim before,” the President told a delighted crowd in a speech in front of City Hall, “but I will make it here in this city on Columbus Day.” The crowd, drawn largely from Newark’s large Italian-American population, roared its approval. Some thought Mr. Kennedy’s claim, which he made with a straight face, was serious. But a White House source later revealed the President had simply “been having some fun."


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