Avon to consider joining long list of towns that don’t observe Columbus Day
Town will look at forgoing federal holiday for floating holiday
The Avon Town Council will examine Columbus Day on Tuesday, and the seven-member board is expected to consider a recommendation to stop observing the holiday in Avon.
The recommendation comes from Town Manager Eric Heil, whom the Town Council asked in October to prepare a recommendation on renaming the holiday. Heil said in 2019 that some members of town staff simply referred to the day as “Monday” since they were working that day. Columbus Day is one of 10 federal holidays recognized by the U.S. government. It comes every second Monday of October.
At a meeting a few days before Columbus Day 2019, council member Scott Prince said he would like to see the holiday honor something other than Christopher Columbus.
“The history has proven to be wrong about what we initially all learned as kids,” Prince said, “and I think it’s appropriate for us to change that name here in Avon.”
In a memo published Friday, Heil said most departments within the town of Avon must work on Columbus Day regardless of its status as a national holiday.
“Alternatives were discussed with the leadership team, and it was felt that a ‘floating holiday’ would be the most beneficial for employees,” Heil wrote in the memo.
Easy change to make
Council Member Tamra Underwood said she also works on Columbus Day.
“Personally what I recognize on Columbus Day, traditionally, is not just great Italian Americans who have contributed a lot to our society but exploration and risk-taking and science,” Underwood said.
As of Columbus Day 2019, 12 states have either changed the name to Indigenous People’s Day or stopped observing the holiday altogether, and more than 100 cities, towns and counties across the country have done the same.
Town Attorney Paul Wisor said the change would be easy to make in Avon.
“As a home rule municipality we are fully authorized to recognize the second Monday in October as whatever day we want,” he said.
Happy #IndigenousPeoplesDay Denver! 🙌🏾 Join me in celebrating the ever-present culture, heritage, history and contributions of Native Americans in the Mile High City and across our nation. Because of them, we are.— Michael B. Hancock (@MayorHancock) October 14, 2019
The idea to change the name to Indigenous People’s Day — as celebrated by the city of Denver — was brought up as a possibility in October, but Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes said that before the town decides on a name it should determine what it is trying to celebrate.
“Doing something that nobody has done before, being on the vanguard of something that’s important … I think we could go along those lines, perhaps, but let’s explore it over the next 10 months and decide later,” Underwood said in October.
Honoring Italian heritage
Avon resident Michael Cacioppo expressed strong feelings about the holiday’s connection to Italian Americans.
“You want to insult Italian Americans,” he told the Avon Town Council, “go for it, but I’ll tell you something: Karma goes around.”
Cacioppo said Columbus was one of the first people to recognize that the world is round and he is still a hero to Italian Americans who celebrate him on Columbus Day.
“It was a special day to my grandfather Joe Palladino, who was a member of the Knights of Columbus,” Cacioppo said. “My grandfather, who spoke what I call Kansas City Sicilian, used to beam about Christopher Columbus.”
Council Member Jake Wolf said the council doesn’t want to step on the culture of Italian Americans.
“We want to honor the Italian Americans, we want to honor the indigenous people to this valley. … Can we figure out a way to do both without starting some kind of revolution?” Wolf asked.
The Columbus Day discussion is the first item on the agenda for Avon’s meeting Tuesday, which is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at town hall.