F5: Columbus Day Refreshed.
Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library
Fog + Foundry Five Fast Facts (or F5) is an occasional series that examines a topic from a new perspective.
1) In 1992 as the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage drew near, the Bay Area took center stage. San Francisco was chosen as the site for the "Quincentennial Jubilee," with plans to sail replicas of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria under the Golden Gate Bridge and drop anchor in the Marina. Across the bay in Berkeley that celebration of imperialism didn't sit well with the city council. In response they renamed the Columbus Day holiday, "Indigenous People's Day." For twenty years the city has hosted a pow-wow on that day to honor and spread awareness of indigenous culture.
2) The first Columbus Day celebration was held in San Francisco in 1869. The city boasts the longest continuously running parade. For more than a century the parade paid specific tribute to Columbus - the first Italian-American - with floats depicting the explorer and his financial backer, Queen Isabella. Since 1994 the celebration has been known as the Italian Heritage Parade and pays tribute to the achievements of all Italians and Italian-Americans.
Photo credit: The Oregonian
3) This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Columbus Day storm that swept through Portland in 1962. Cold air streaming down from the Gulf of Alaska collided with warm, wet air moving northward to create a devastating storm off the Oregon coast with the power of a category 3 hurricane. Gusts along the southern coastline exceeded 145 mph, while speeds of 116 mph were seen in the city of Portland. 46 people lost their lives and 53,000 homes in Oregon and Washington were damaged to the tune of $1 million.
4) While Columbus Day is not an official holiday in the state of California, it does mark the start of early balloting for the November 6th election. Oregon and Indiana also begin voting today. The trend of voting early (if not often) has risen steadily this century. In 2004 22% of votes were cast before election day, with that number growing to 34% in the 2008 election. Estimates for this year have as many as 40% of ballots being cast ahead of election day.
5) Most school districts across the country have the day off, but many communities hosted their Columbus Day festivities over the weekend, leaving parents with small kids in a kind of holiday no-man's-land. Keep the kids busy with a holiday-themed project today, such as making a Christopher Columbus newspaper hat.