The 2011 New York City Columbus Day Parade will kick off at 11:30 am on Monday, October 10.

The parade will follow a route up Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 79th Street where the parade will end at around 3 p.m.

The Columbus Citizens Foundation has organized the Columbus Day Parade since 1929 and over 35,000 people participate each year. That includes over 100 groups, bands, floats and contingents.

It celebrates the spirit of exploration and courage that inspired Christopher Columbus' 1492 expedition and the important contributions that Italian-Americans have made to the U.S.

Participants from all over the world march in the Columbus Day Parade and members of the parade committee spend countless hours reviewing the many talented bands and entertainment acts in an effort to make each year's parade the most exciting one yet.

This year, the parade will feature Pia Toscano of American Idol as well as the Italian Musical, The Italian Fairy. As usual, you can expect to see traditional Italian folk groups perform century-old dances. Grand Marshal Joseph Plumeri, proud philanthropist, and Chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings, will lead the parade.

Parade attendance has grown over the years and now nearly one million spectators are expected to attend in 2011. That makes the Columbus Day Parade the largest celebration of Italian-American culture in the world!

Expect to see Fifth Avenue transformed during the parade from 44th to 79th Streets. The grandstands will be located between 67th and 69th Streets.

Other events for the weekend include a black-tie Gala Dinner in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the traditional wreath laying at Columbus Circle, and a solemn Mass celebrated by His Excellency, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan.

There will also be an exhibit in Grand Central Station.

Happy Columbus Day 2011! Enjoy the parade and all the festivities this weekend.