Monday is Columbus Day 2011 and many banks, state and local offices as well as U.S. post offices will be closed. Among the biggest celebrations is in New York, where the Columbus Day Parade will begin at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time, lasting until about 3 p.m.

New York's Columbus Day Parade starts on Fifth Avenue at 44th Street and continues up Fifth to 79th Street. There is a Columbus Day Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral at 50th Street and Fith Avenue at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

The Columbus Citizens Foundation has been organizing New York's Columbus Day Parade since 1929. More than 35,000 participate in the parade each year, including more than 100 groups sporting floats, bands and an assortment of entries. Some one million spectators view the parade -- including almost 500,000 lining the streets to watch live -- and it is among the largest celebrations of Italian-American culture in the world.

Traditionally, Columbus Day is held on the second Monday in October.

The first record of an event commemorating Columbus Day in the United States was on October 12, 1792. Columbus Day celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus; discovering the United States.

Columbus arrived in the Americas on October 12, 1492. Observance of Columbus Day varies throughout the United States. It became an official holiday in Colorado in 1906, and a federal holiday in 1937, although Hawaii and South Dakota do not recognize Columbus Day at all.

In New York, and in other cities around the country, Columbus Day celebration is a big, annual event, however. From the press relese of the Columbus Citizens Foundation regarding this year's Columbus Day Parade in New York:

On October 10, 2011, Fifth Avenue will be transformed during the Columbus Day Parade, the world's largest celebration of Italian-American culture. The parade was led by Grand Marshal Joseph Plumeri, proud philanthropist, and Chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings. 

The Columbus Day Parade is a fun filled Parade that gets bigger and better every year. Participants from all over the world march in our Parade with pride.

This is already a special year for us, as we have invited and received confirmation from some of the most talented performers. Pia Toscano (American Idol Favorite) as well as the Italian Musical, The Italian Fairy are just some of the notable performers. The Sacred Heart University Marching Band as well as Stony Brook University Marching Band will be just a few of our new and exciting musical acts in the Parade. This year, the Parade will be marching up Fifth Avenue from 44th to 72nd Street. The grandstands will be located on Fifth Avenue between 67th and 69th Streets.

The parade celebrates the spirit of exploration and courage that inspired Christopher Columbus's 1492 expedition and the important contributions Italian-Americans have made to the United States. Over a dozen high school bands, as well as virtuosi professional groups from the United States and Italy, marched up Fifth Avenue and filled the canyons of midtown with joyous, heart-pounding music. Traditional folk groups performed centuries-old dances, and cutting-edge designs were brought to the parade route in displays of the vibrant culture that is Italy today.