In celebration of Columbus Day, Baltimore will hold its 109th annual Columbus Parade at 2 p.m. Sunday.
The parade, begun in 1890, is the oldest consecutively held Columbus parade in the nation, said Thomas J. D'Alesandro III, former Baltimore mayor and one of the parade's key organizers.
For the first time, an open-air market featuring Italian food, crafts and a variety of Italian cultural activities will be part of the festivities. The market will be open from noon to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of DaMimmo's Restaurant, at Albemarle and Stiles streets in Little Italy.
Before the parade begins, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at 9: 45 a.m. at the Columbus Piazza near President Street and Eastern Avenue.
After a speech by parade grand marshal Kurt L. Schmoke, about 20 local organizations, including the Knights of Columbus, will lay wreaths at the monument.
"This is really the recognition and the commemoration" of Columbus coming to the Americas, D'Alesandro said. "It's a very solemn and expressive type of remembrance of the man."
The parade will feature a number of marching bands and floats, including the Sons of Italy's Gondola Float, appearances by a costumed Christopher Columbus and Miss Little Italy, and marching bands from Dulaney High School, Calvert Hall, Kenwood High School and Loch Raven High School.
The parade will follow the same route as last year, beginning at Covington Street and Key Highway, moving west along Key, turning north at Light Street, traveling east on Pratt Street and ending at President Street.
Streets in the area will be closed for the parade from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.