PUEBLO — After some push back for years, Columbus Day is no longer recognized as a holiday in Colorado. However, that didn't stop the annual celebration from taking place in Pueblo at the Columbus Statue on Abriendo Ave.
One of the biggest differences is that the celebration was not met with dozens of protesters like it has seen in years past. What hasn't changed though is the controversy over the Columbus Statue, one of the few left standing in the country.
"It's kind of scary and a bummer that people don't want this guy up here," said Rodney Stimmle.
Columbus Day supporters like Stimmle said the day is not about Christopher Columbus or his statue at the Christopher Columbus Piazza, instead, it's about celebrating Italian heritage.
"We're about pride of where our ancestors came from and we're about helping people," said Stimmle.
While Columbus Day is no longer recognized as a state holiday, and Governor Jared Polis signed a bill to change it to Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini Day, dozens still gathered around the statue where the debate about the monument remains unresolved.
"This is a celebration of the diversity that makes Pueblo," said Jack Everhart, a Columbus Day supporter. "It's not about the statue. They want to take the statue? They don't need to take the statue. Put one up next to it," he added.
In recent years, protesters by the dozens have showed up to voice their concerns about the statue and the holiday. Barricades are also put up to keep the tensions at ease.
Although protesters were absent this year, many believe Columbus should not be celebrated. However, Columbus Day supporters say one day, they hope the memorial at the Piazza will expand to include more cultures.
"There will be an opportunity for all of us to celebrate each other's heritage and culture and that's really the whole idea behind this continuous celebration," said Jerry Carleo, the event organizer. "The city had a conversation and introduced the idea of a multi-cultural heritage piazza."
This has been an ongoing topic of discussion in Pueblo. City Council voted down a possible question to the voters on the future of the statue back in August.
Over the holiday weekend, people vandalized the statue, but city officials were able to clean it before Monday morning's celebration.