An Unknown ‘Father of Columbus Day’ and the Colorado City Embroiled in One of the Most Intense Standoffs Surrounding Its Columbus Monument

Sep 14, 2020 587

BY: Marianna Gatto

Colorado is not the place that typically comes to mind when we think of Columbus Day celebrations in the United States. If New York makes the top of the list, Colorado would probably rank somewhere around #25, depending on who you ask. But guess which state was the first to recognize the Columbus Day holiday. The answer may surprise you. It wasn’t New York, Massachusetts, or even New Jersey. It was Colorado.

Italians began settling in Colorado in the 1850s, and on April 1, 1907, Colorado became the first state in the nation to establish Columbus Day as a legal holiday, predating the federal government’s designation by 30 years. By the early 1920s, roughly twenty percent of Colorado’s population claimed Italian ancestry. The impact of one Italo Coloradan in particular — Hector Chiariglione — extended far beyond the Centennial State.

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