A Sea of Blue Shine for the Greeks on 5th Ave.

31 Mar
Folkloric Greek marchers

Folkloric Greek marchers

Early spring still had a chill in the air but that didn’t stop the thousands of revelers from lining 5th Ave. from 63rd to 79th Sts. to celebrate the 194th anniversary of Greek Independence from Ottoman rule. It was a festive occasion although it was not without incident. As with most major parades, the mounted police signal the start of the parade. Nearby the reviewing stand near 68th st., a mounted police officer was thrown from his horse when it got spooked by some loud music. The officer was writhing in pain in his leg. The incident caused a delay in the start of the parade. Once word got out that an officer was injured in the line of duty, both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio rushed to the aid of the officer as he was being hoisted into an ambulance and rushed to Bellevue Hospital. Once the incident was under control, the parade kicked off much to the delight of the anxious crowd.

Hostess of the Broadcast

Hostess of the Broadcast


Cuomo and DeBlasio checking in on wounded officer


Presidential Guard..Evzones


A Sea of Blue on 5th Ave.

Grand Marshalls NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, John Calamos, and John and Helen Psaras made their way up the parade route. They were soon followed by representatives from Greece including the Greek Defense Minister. Greeks are a deeply religious people and have a great reverence to His Eminence Archbishop Demitrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America. But what everyone was looking forward to was the perennial favorite, the Presidential Guard of the Republic of Greece, Evzones, marching with their signature steps. The crowd went nuts when they marched by. Several youth groups from Universities from Greece marched behind the Evzones. This was the first year several groups imitating the Presidential Guard participated in the parade. A group that always gets loud cheers are the Greek Folkloric group with their traditional costumes and the mighty Greek Warriors with their authentic Spartan warrior attire. They were placed strategically to protect the Greek Independence beauty queen float. The parade was broadcast locally on MY9 and internationally back to Greece.

Ernie Anastos broadcasting on MY9

Ernie Anastos broadcasting on MY9

Folkloric costume

Folkloric costume


Cyprus Protesters

Groups from Cyprus marched by with banners protesting the Turkish occupation of their land. Other floats showed off the Greek contributions to civilization like democracy and a tribute to the famous painter “El Greco”. One marching band that looked like they were having fun were the Superior Sound Marching Band. Greek Orthodox Churches from the tri-state area sent representatives to march. It was great to see revelers cheer on their fellow church members. This was a fun parade with lots of traditional costumes.

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Great to be Greek for a day.

Everyone’s Irish For a Day on St. Patrick’s Day

20 Mar
NYPD Emerald Society

NYPD Emerald Society

The mostly overcast day gave everyone a hint that warmer weather for NYC is finally on the way. As I turned up 5th Ave. around 49th St., the sidewalks were about 10 deep or more anxiously waiting for the parade to kick off. The patron saint of both the City of New York and Ireland, St. Patrick’s devotees come together from the USA and Ireland to celebrate Irish culture, contribution and tradition. This year’s version had a greater international influence than in previous years. Marching bands came from afar as Japan, France, Canada, Chile and Argentina. They were all well received by the more than 1 million revelers that lined up 5th Ave. to see the granddaddy of them all.  The St. Patrick’s Day parade is the oldest parade in the nation celebrating its 254th year. It was great to see people from all nationalities wearing something green in honor of the shamrock and Irish pride and culture. As usual, the mounted police signaled the  start of the parade. It didn’t take much to get the crowd cheering. As a show of force, the parade kicked off with the original fighting Irish; the Army 69th Regiment with their signature pair of Irish Wolfhounds howling to get started. This historic group was the first military personnel to respond to the Sept. 11 attacks. Since then, 24 members have been killed defending our freedom and serving our country.This years parade was dedicated to those fallen heroes and their families.

Parade Grand Marshall Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Parade Grand Marshall Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Officer McDonald

Officer McDonald

Protesters have their say

Protesters have their say

A parade this large could not go on without some controversy. Mayor DeBlasio refused to march in the parade because parade organizers would allow only one gay and lesbian groups to march; Out@NBCUniversal.  It’s a step in the right direction but not enough and protester made their point along the parade route near 56th St. Parade Grand Marshall Cardinal Timothy Dolan, from the Archdiocese of New York, got the crowd worked up. He’s beloved by the millions of Catholics living in the Tri-state area. Getting a nice reception from the crowd was Officer McDonald, a living symbol of love and forgiveness. One of the more impressive pipe and drums band was from the NYPD Emerald Society. They really got the crowd worked up. An annual favorite is the sleek Dover HS Marching Band. Representatives from all the Armed Forces sent their bands to play and march but the Navy band surged ahead of the others.

Osaka Orchestral Band

Osaka Orchestral Band

Band from Brittany, France

Band from Brittany, France

A Happy Reveler

A Happy Reveler

Groups from all the counties in Ireland made their way up the parade route. They were wishing all the revelers a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. More fun came when bands from all parts of the world marched and played some really good music. The award-winning band from Osaka, Japan was really having a good time and worked the crowd. The band from Brittany, France played their own kind of bagpipes and performed a traditional dance. They were a definite crowd pleaser. The wind started kicking up in just what appeared to be an appropriate moment. The FDNY group of 343 marched to the applaud of the crowd. This group reminds everyone of the 343 firefighters that gave the ultimate sacrifice on the Sept. 11 attacks. The firefighters carrying the flags had to use some force to keep the flags from falling backwards because of the wind gusts. When the 343 flags marched passed me, people were yelling “we will never forget” and there were even a few USA chants heard. That chant brought me back to Game 3 of the 2001 World Series in the Old Yankee Stadium. My friend Nelson and I drove 5 hours from a contingency site in New Hampshire to be part of the Fall Classic and yell out loud USA..USA..USA after President Bush threw a strike to catcher Jorge Posada. Chills ran up and down my spine in probably one of the best moments ever in Yankee Stadium. Yes. We will never forget.

343 FDNY group honoring our heroes

343 FDNY group honoring our heroes

Derry County Representatives

Derry County Representatives

US Navy Marching Band

US Navy Marching Band

All the parochial high schools in the tri-state area get to march in the parade with the band from Londonderry Ct. being one of the crowd favorites. Looks as though parade organizers are trying to compete with Macy’s Thanksgiving parade for the most out-of-town marching bands to perform. Bands came in from Utah, Kansas, California but the most notable were from Roane HS Tennessee and Hoover HS from Alabama. The kids had a great time and it was probably their first time in the Big Apple for many of them. Some of best dressed pipe and drum bands had to be ones from the Police Emerald Society of Westchester with their snazzy yellow tartans. One of the best sounding pipe and drums band had to be the Suffolk County Pipes and Drum band.


If this is a precursor to the parade lineup for this year, New Yorkers and tourists will have a fantastic time. The parade was energetic and full of cheer and good will. I was really glad to be Irish for just one day.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2015

Thousands Flock to Chinatown in Celebration of the Year of the Goat

25 Feb
Dancing Lions

Dancing Lions

The walk-in freezer weather NYC has been going through most of February finally broke just in time for the 16th annual celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year. This is the most important and celebrated of all the Chinese holidays and brings families together. Parade organizers, Better Chinatown, always do great job organizing the festivities. As usual, the pre-parade festivities start on Mott and Hester Sts. in Chinatown. Politicians and parade VIPs all greet the crowd and make proclamations and wish everyone a happy New Year. When all the well wishes were done, the people on the VIP float dangled lettuce on a pole to appease the Dancing Lions. The lions “eat” the lettuce and then throw it back to the crowd for good luck and prosperity. Then the fun starts with the parade kicking off down Mott St. where the narrow streets made the clang and drum beat reach higher decibel levels. The thousands of revelers that lined the parade route really got into it when the Staten Island Lions led the first group of marchers. More traditional dancing arrived when Chinese Folk Yanko Dance Group of female dancers showed off their moves. A parade favorite from the World Journal group arrived with the double dragons swerving their way through the parade route. The kids loved it.  This was a fun way to kick off the parade season then off to my favorite restaurant Wo-Hop…wahoo.

Marni Having Fun

Marni Having Fun

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New Balloons Soar High at the Thanksgiving Day Parade

28 Nov

Here comes Spiderman

Here comes Spiderman

The overcast chilly weather couldn’t stop the millions of spectators to come out early Thanksgiving Day and watch the many great balloons, the hundreds of themed clowns, a fine cast of celebrities, and some of the best marching bands in the country perform. Celebrating the 88th annual Macys Thanksgiving Parade included a star filled line-up with the likes of Nick Jonas, William Blake, Idina Menzel, rock legends KISS and a whole host of other music performers. Televised globally, the parade is the precursor to the upcoming holiday season. The beginning of the parade this year showcased the largest marching of the parade coming in from Western Carolina University with hundreds of band members getting the crowd worked up for what would be a fun-filled day.
Nick Jonas

Nick Jonas

The first float to appear was Tom the Turkey float with this years first celebrity, cooking personality Sandra Lee. But most people had their sights on the first of many large balloons to float on by. Thomas the Tank Engine made his first appearance in the parade followed by more celebrity filled floats and some great marching bands. The Bahamian All Star Marching Band really made a splash at the parade. A new float celebrating baseball was a big hit since it displayed a large screen with cameras focused on parade spectators. The Hello Kitty balloon got the kids worked up for a favorite celebrity, Nick Jonas. The Paddington Bear balloon was also new to the parade and really looked detailed with soft hair. A definite show stealer were the Red Hot Mamas trying to give the Rockettes a run for their money. The next hour was the best part of the parade with huge balloons making kids from 2 to 99 say a great big Wow. One of the most impressive was newcomer Red Power Ranger coming to the rescue. One of the biggest balloons brought many smiles and some scary faces if your afraid of big black dragons that is. Newcomer Erupter from Skylanders was pretty cool to look at. Then everyone’s favorite creepy crawler floated by ready to weave a web and catch the bad guys. Superhero Spiderman looked ready to take on any villain.

One of the best pairings of the parade was when legendary rock band Kiss was on a float just before the Finn and Jake balloon. The scary look on Finn’s face might have been because Kiss terrified him. One of the better bands came in from Georgia State University and they really got the crowd worked up with a crazy drummer getting into their version of the Neil Diamond classic, Sweet Caroline. The parade theme started to change from Thanksgiving to Christmas with the Foothills Falcons Marching Band playing themed music and some floats and balloons that got everyone waiting in anticipation for the grand finale. But first one of most impressive of all bands which was not really a band wowed the crowd. The all-male Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corp. showed why they are one of the premier drum and bugle corps in the nation. All the kids got excited when their favorite cartoon character left his pineapple home under the sea, none other than SpongeBob Squarepants. Having the best time of any group were the Elves jumping up and down with lots of energy getting ready to introduce the main man, Santa Claus. I lost count of how many adults took selfies with Santa in the background. Everywhere I looked there were smiles galore and kids waving for his attention even the big kids.
This year’s menu of parades was amazing… beginning with the fortunate Chinese Lunar New Year (missed a major snowstorm by a day), the oldest parade in the country; St. Patrick’s Day parade, the young but vibrant Dance parade, the loud and proud Puerto Rican and Dominican parades, the loving LBGT Pride parade, the whacky Mermaid parade, the largest and most colorful Labor Day parade, the insightful African-American parade, the cultural Hispanic and spicy Italian Heritage parade, the scariest Halloween parade, the Nation’s Veterans parade and breathtaking Thanksgiving parades were a continuing preservation of culture, history and creativity of the greatest city on the planet. It was my honor and privilege to witness and chronicle these important events. First I wanted to give thanks to the parade organizers for their tireless work in making these parades possible. Thanks to the hundreds of thousands of volunteers and marchers, especially the marching bands. Thanks to the NYPD for keeping everyone safe. And especially thanks to you the reader for keeping this blog going.









































Garden of Delights Thrill at the Village Halloween Parade

2 Nov
Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween


     The parade route along 6th Ave in the Village was filled with hundreds of thousands of night crawlers anticipating the start of the biggest Halloween party in the country. Now celebrating its 41st year, the parade has grown into international notoriety with groups coming in from Spain and Mexico just to march up and make it a hell of a party. As usual, the parade started with angels imparting blessings to the massive crowd while spreading their magical pixie dust. The once busy commercial 6th Ave. would be transformed to a place of enchantment and horror all in a few hours of sheer madness. One of the many reasons the parade is so popular are the many puppets displayed at the beginning of the parade… from skeletons with Beats headphones to scary pumpkins to multi-colored 30 ft. snakes offering apples to the crowd.  The puppets were truly amazing and got the crowd worked up for what would be a thrilling night. This years theme of the Garden of Earthly Delights was presented right after the skeleton puppets when some butterfly puppets and a variety of garden flowers, mushrooms, and plants made way for the largest puppet of the parade…the Tree of Life. Master puppeteers Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles went all out this year with this years theme. What made it even more impressive was adding the combination of the smoking hot all-female drum band Batala with their rhythmic beat. Well played.

Batala jamming

Batala jamming

Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Royal Pumpkin

Royal Pumpkin


     All you need is a costume to march in the parade but New Yorkers just don’t put on any costume and call it a day. New Yorkers once again showed their creativity with some of the scariest and craziest costumes found anywhere in the country and I have the pictures to prove it.  But the parade is not just about costumes. It’s a huge party with lots of marching bands and dancing. One of the dancing groups that got the crowd worked up was the Broadway Bodies dancers. They got the crowd worked up for a crowd favorite…the Thriller dance group. They killed it this year. A special treat this year was the Day of the Dead commemoration float with memorials of those shining stars that passed on this year. Following right behind was this years Grand Marshall, Whoopi Goldberg, waving to all her fans. One of the better party floats got the crowd worked up with their club music even after I was attacked by a crazy zombie nurse.

Day of the Dead Float

Day of the Dead Float

Whoopi Goldberg Whooping It Up

Whoopi Goldberg Whooping It Up

The Wedding Party

The Wedding Party


    A marching band that came all the way from Puebla, Mexico set the tone for the wildest float of the parade with aliens playing and dancing to swing. They were one of the best parts of the parade. The Star Wars Jedi club broke out their lightsabers and dueled their way up 6th Ave. They were soon followed by Darth Vader and the Princess with a few Sandpeople in the mix. The locally televised event was a big hit this year with lots of energy and lots of fun had by all. Scare ya next year.

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Italian Heritage Spice Things Up on 5th Ave.

17 Oct

Viva Italia

Viva Italia

Following the previous days celebration of Hispanic culture on 5th Ave., Columbus Day was a day to celebrate Italian heritage and contribution to the city and to America. Since it was an official vacation day there were hundreds of thousands of revelers eager to see fancy cars and their friends marching in some of the best local high school and collegiate marching bands in the tri state area. This being an election year, plenty of politicians were gathered to gain support for the upcoming elections including Italian descendant, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo. After parade VIPs and politicians marched up the parade route from 45th to 69th Sts., the fun started with Italian cars and plenty of Italian groups representing their heritage. A float with speakers blaring Sinatra’s New York, New York made me feel like I was in Yankee Stadium after a Yankees win. It was always a treat to see Italian police officers and firemen showing a kindred spirit with their counterparts from New York.
Marni Working the Crowd

Marni Working the Crowd

Italian State Police

Italian State Police

Eagle Sun Reminding Us All

Eagle Sun Reminding Us All

One of the better show marching bands came in blaring their loud horns and tight drumline. Stoney Brook U Seawolves made an impressive appearance to get the crowd worked up for a fun-filled day. Fighting back to be heard over a loud float blasting Volare and other Italian-American classic hits, the enthusiastic XFactor Drumline from Mt. Vernon NY showed why they are a crowd favorite. They got some competition when the drumline from Dover, NJ made their way down the parade route. Not everyone agreed with the benefits of Christopher Columbus landing on America. Parade protester, native American Eagle Sun, carried signs expressing his protest over the celebration and urged to have it changed to Native American Day as an honor to his ancestors. I have joined the movement to change the name of the parade to the Italian Heritage Parade and not celebrate a pillager and character responsible for the beginning of genocide on this continent. Italians have been an integral thread in the fabric of this great city since the Great Immigration movement from the 1870s to 1920s and helped create small and large businesses and some of the best cuisine the city offers. The connection to the motherland, Italy, has always been a major theme of this parade and many groups displayed signs mashing the two flags, Italian and American.


This parade is also a prelude to the many top bands set to appear in next months Veterans and Thanksgiving Day parades. A top band appearing were from Connetquat HS from Bohemia, NY. They set the tone for the rest of the day. A band that stole the hearts of many viewers were the first autistic marching band ever to appear. Another band that made some noise were from North Hunterdon, NJ. A show band that made the crowd smile came from Clifton HS marching band. Their march made them appear to part of a Christmas story. The marching band from Brewster NY were one of the happiest bands to play. Italian marchers dressed in medieval costumes gave the viewers a feel for what things may have been like in Italy during the Renassaince Era. They were fun to talk to event though we understand each other, so I just gave them the universally understood thumbs up for a great costume. This was a fun parade and it was great to see multi-generational Italians have a blast at the parade.








































An enchanting display

An enchanting display

A Spanish Explosion of Color and Dance Rock 5th Ave.

16 Oct

Let's Dance Spanish Style

Let’s Dance Spanish Style

The celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month culminated with the 50th annual Hispanic Day Parade lined up on 5th Ave. from 38th to 78th Sts. This year’s version displayed a wide variety of colorful costumes and enthusiastic dancing from all the different Hispanic countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean islands under Spanish influence from colonial times. As always the first group to march was from Spain wit their fancy flamenco dancers and State Police representatives. A parade staple from Casa Galicia played the bagpipes to get the crowd warmed up for what would be a spectacular day of Hispanic culture. The parade usually goes in alphabetical order with Argentina leading the way but I guess the groups from Paraguay had to leave early and jumped the line as they were the first ones to march after the Spain contingency. They were abit on the unusual side with lovely ladies balancing glass bottles on their head.
Beauty Queen

Beauty Queen

Bolivian Caporales

Bolivian Caporales

Chilean Couple

Chilean Couple

Argentina added to their usual tango dancers float with more traditional dancing. Bolivia has one of the largest groups in the parade as they have such a variety of dancers to display. First are the tinkus, then the morenales and then the high energy caporales from Virginia with their shiny cowboy costumes and bells on their boots. Speaking of cowboys…the Chileans dressed up their young children in cowboy costumes while the girls wore traditional costumes. Another large group were the Colombians with their colorful costumes and cumbia dancers. One group had an usual costume as though they were clowns from the netherworld. Costa Rica was known for their majestic Arabian horses doing their signature gallop as though they were dancing to the music. The Caribbean representatives danced their way up in Cuba and the Dominican Republic soon followed by the large group from Ecuador. El Salvador had one of the better bands based out of Washington DC to appear up the parade route. A large float with costumed characters came from the Guatemalan group. One float of note and appeared for the first time was that of the Hispanic Muslim women.
Dominican diablos

Dominican diablos

Ecuadorian Beauty

Ecuadorian Beauty

Mexican chinelos

Mexican chinelos

Halfway through the parade, Honduras marched up with a band from Las Vegas soon to be followed by the large group from Mexico including traditional Mexican dancers, a marching band from Puebla, Mexico and the energetic chinelos dancers. More Central Americans appeared with a small group from Nicaragua followed by another large group from Panama with their beloved marching bands from Panama City. Rounding out the parade were the groups from Peru with their traditional dancers and the rhythmic and scantily clad dancers from Uruguay. Oh and I can’t forget the Venezuelans. They had a small group to represent. Anyone that stayed for the 4 hour parade was certainly treated to the many aspects of Hispanic culture. One of the best parts was when the flag of the Latin American nations was displayed. United by a common language, Hispanics showed that there is strength in diversity.









































All the Americas!!!

All the Americas!!!

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