It’s going to be an unusually quiet federal holiday in Downtown Binghamton on October 12.

WNBF News/ Sean Holbert Photo

After 60 years, there will be no high school marching bands competing through downtown Binghamton for top honors for marching, music, drill squads and drum majors. The COVID pandemic has canceled the annual Columbus Day Tournament of Bands that was supposed to be held for the 61st year October 12, 2020. 

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For decades, the tournament that has drawn high school marching units from New York and Pennsylvania for a street parade competition, has also attracted politicians that are looking for some supporter boost toward the end of their campaigns, including some past presidents and presidential-hopefuls as well as local politicians.

Hal Stewart-Townsquare Binghamton

While the parade and Italian Festival linked to Christopher Columbus has long been at the center of the controversy over the rights of indigenous persons, in 2019 the protests rose to a higher level with demonstrators blocking the parade route and disrupting some of the vendors at the festival.  Some of those protesters were not even focusing on the issue of celebrating Christopher Columbus and the colonization of the Americas but were calling for reforms at the Broome County Jail.