NEW YORK (AP) — The Columbus Day parade has kicked off the homestretch of New York City's mayoral election.
Democrat Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota each waved to cheering supporters Monday during the 69th annual parade.
De Blasio, who has a commanding lead in the polls, received a warm embrace from Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the parade's first moments. De Blasio and Lhota will square off in the first debate Tuesday night, exactly three weeks before the Nov. 5 general election.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg also marched up Fifth Avenue from 47th Street to 72nd Street as part of the celebration of the city's Italian-American culture. The parade's grand marshal was Wall Street financier and philanthropist Joseph Perella.