By Kym Gable

BLOOMFIELD (KDKA) — The Saturday before Columbus Day always turns Pittsburgh’s Little Italy into one big celebration.

It’s affectionately known as “Little Italy,” but there’s nothing small about Bloomfield’s Columbus Day parade. Thousands lined Liberty Avenue to see everyone from Pittsburgh politicians to pint-sized pageant queens.

“It’s a welcoming [event], not just for Italians, but for all people,” Mayor Bill Peduto said.

And don’t forget all the marching bands, community organizations and celebrities, like wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino.

“You see a lot of my countrymen over here. I mean, I run into so many people from my town, and you know I came from the other side. It’s amazing how many of them come over here. You know, you can chance to see them, people that you never see except in a wedding or a funeral,” Sammartino said.

KDKA personalities Paul Martino and Christine D’Antonio, with her daughter Lydia, also appeared.

It was the 31st annual parade, and the crowd keeps getting bigger.

“We’ve been here in cold weather, in hot weather, rainy weather, but it’s great because it celebrates our Italian heritage. But at the same time, my little princess is Little Miss Italy, so we had to come out and support her, it’s just been great,” Alexix Punturiero, who comes to the Columbus Day parade every year, said.

Celebrating not only that intrepid explorer for whom the holiday is named, but a heritage that embodies that Pittsburgh pride.

Allegheny County government offices will be closed Monday for Columbus Day. City of Pittsburgh government offices will be open. All Port Authority buses will run as scheduled.

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