In all my 33 years, I do not ever remember Columbus Day being anything other than an excuse for a sale at Wicke's Furniture or something. I honestly was shocked when I came to work this morning and saw that Court Street outside my office window had been transformed into a parade route.
Apparently Columbus, in addition to discovering the New World on this day in history, must have been a big fan of really bad high school marching bands, because Columbus Day seems to have transformed into an excuse for small town Battle of the Bands all over the country.
Upon further thought, I am pretty certain that I haven't heard a peep about Columbus Day in recent memory because it is not considered politically correct to memorialize the white European male who came to America, spread his syphilis to the natives, and ushered in an era of total European domination over the dark-skinned locals. In fact, I'm POSITIVE that's why I haven't heard of Columbus Day being acknowledged when I lived in L.A.
That said, I am well aware of Cesar Chavez Day, MLK Day, and, my personal favorite, Mexican Independence Day, which I am pretty certain is a holiday for the City of L.A. because my old boss used to rant and rave about that. I also am aware that the Big Jewish Holidays, Yom Kippur and/or Rosh Hashana, fall in September because I always thought it really funny that USC Law School had the Jewish holidays off, but USC Business School, the next-door building, did not.
When I am President of the Universe, I cannot wait to pick my own holidays: Date of Invention of Frozen Yogurt, Birthday of Guy Who Discovered Mascara, My Birthday, my old dog Daisy's Birthday, etc.
p.s. I spoke with my smart, 50+ year-old secretary after writing the above. I commented that I thought maybe Columbus Day wasn't so politically correct in California, but that we certainly had Cesar Chavez day off. She asked me, "What's a cesar chavez?"
Yes, that's right, yet another example of California being so far out of step with the rest of the country that it gives an entire state holiday to a man that probably 95% of the country could not identify. All because politicians are too chicken to vote "no" on the creation of more holidays, out of fear of looking racist. Ugh.