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
Italian State Police
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
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.
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.
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!!!
The hint of a crisp fall early October Sunday was setting of the 78th annual Pulaski Day Parade along 5th Ave where thousands of Polish descendants came out to wave their red and white flags. Polish people sang and danced polka in celebration of the great General Pulaski and Polish contribution to the city and to America. Everywhere you looked there were traditional costumes and traditional dancing. The Polish people are very devoted to Pope John Paul II and many floats displayed his image. Many groups from the tristate area represented the majority of the marchers. The first hour of the parade had many towns and marching bands from New Jersey from Garfield to Jackson, NJ. Connecticut sent groups from Hartford and surrounding areas followed by the local groups mostly from Greenpoint in Brooklyn.
This year the parade organizers celebrated the 70th year of the Warsaw Uprising when the Polish army successfully revolted against Nazi Germany during World War II. One of the loudest parts of the parade was when about 400 bikers from the Unknown Biker Club roared up 5th Ave. A definite crowd favorite was when a Polish Folk Dance Group from Houston Texas danced traditional polka. They were fun but outdone by a local group of the Polish American Folk Dance Company. They had some really nice dance moves and brought smiles to plenty of folks watching. Displaying more modern Polish vibes was a group from NJ with their Polish rock music that got the young crowd worked up. Each town represented had their own Miss Polonia and each one was more beautiful than the next. I have to admit the Polish people do love their fancy classic cars and some were quite impressive, especially my personal favorite, the Duesenburg. There was even a Mercedes-Benz classic with advertising for perogis. Heck I was looking for some delicious perogis but they weren’t offering any. Oh well. Next year. The Polish people love their country, customs, traditions and it was shown for all to see on 5th Ave. POLISH POWER.
Long Live Poland
Westsider High Steppin’
Billed as the largest African American Day parade
in the country, this past Sundays salute to African American heritage, culture and contribution to America was alive and kicking in high gear. Although the parade was competing with the largest People’s Global Climate March in the world, the streets were still lined up with thousands of revelers looking to see marchers, dignitaries, and some of the best steppers from around the country. The 45th annual parade always sends positive messages to the community and more importantly brings awareness of injustices that have happened. Banners demanding an end to police brutality and a demonstration set for October to protest police tactics were prevalent. This was also a day for celebration as many unions participated to show unity and strength in the face of a wave of efforts to block and weaken workers on a national level. Mayor deBlasio was well received for his efforts to reach contractual agreements with union workers, one the previous administration had difficulty doing. The Rev. Al Sharpton and Mayor David Dinkins were applauded for all their hard work to bring a voice to those that have suffered some injustice.
Bonnet Ladies Doing It Up in Style
Getting ready to Step
Then the fun started when he first of several steppers arrived. The Baltimore Westsiders showed off their moves to the grandstand at 125th and Frederick Douglas Blvd. The Yoruba African group danced their way up the parade group with some unusual costumes. Ironically they were followed by the Christian Warrior Marching band. They were pretty good. One of the steppers with the cutest kids were the Mission Drum and Bugle Corp. The little girls in their 50s throwback costumes brought smiles to the faces of many in the crowd. The various motorcycle clubs roared up the parade route while the ladies in bonnets brought some fashion to the party. Getting the crowd warmed up some more were the Citywide Goldstarz with their energetic leader and the Marching Elite with their jazzy style. A new addition to the parade were a hometown stepping group that really worked the crowd with their tight moves. The Marching Cobras set the tone for the rest of the parade and were the benchmark for other groups to follow. The acrobatic FAO-TOR group kept the energy level on high showing off their cheerleader moves. The Baltimore Showstoppers lived up to their billing and gave the crowd a thrill with the great choreography and booming marching band. They tore it up. Closing out the steppers was a dynamic group from Baltimore…Mass Destruction, yeah they killed it. Their high energy and focus was unmatched. Once again the parade was a major success and was a fine display of African-American pride, culture, unity and strength.
Come back and see me next year
Fresh off their dramatic World Cup victory, the Germans that came to NYC to participate in the 57th annual Steuben parade on 5th Ave. were still riding high with the fever of a big win. The parade typically kicks off the fall season with a display of traditional dress (and beer), some well seasoned German marching bands (and beer), and revelers dressed in the German Karneval costumes (and did I mention beer). The parade traditionally is a tribute to Baron von Steuben, the Prussian General responsible for training the first Army during the Revolutionary War. But it has morphed into a display of fine German culture and tradition including many youth celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. With over 20 marching bands shipped in from Germany to march in the parade, the crowd was sure to be treated to some good marching tunes. As usual the mounted police signaled the start of the parade followed by one of the marching bands. It was great to see representatives from both the German police and fire departments sharing some special moments with their NYC counterparts. Many local German affiliated clubs and organizations marched their way up the parade route from 63rd to 86th Sts. including a crowd favorite, the Long Island Volkswagon Club.
It’s always great to see the German marching bands and compare them to some US High School marching bands. One of the more notable bands came from Nienborg and played a loud brass filled tune while the marching band from Ebersberg was more airy with flutes and chimes. Both were a treat to see and hear. A perennial crowd favorite are the karveval groups dressed in their funny costumes while some viewers enjoy the more traditional “Tracht” attire. Even some dog owners got in on the parade showing off their Dobermans and Hovaworts. All the build up was for one of the best marching bands the city has seen this year as the Schutzenkapelle Holzheim marching band made their way up he parade route. It’s always great to see the tradition passed on from one generation to another and to see the youth embrace traditions passed on from the Motherland. Although the parade was shorter than previous years and missing a crowd favorite, the maypole, it was still a fun parade to be part of.
Sehen Sie im nachsten jahr.
Photos by Annette Kuehn
Welcome My Friend
Billed as the largest India Day Parade in the United States, this years version did not disappoint the thousands of parade viewers lining up Madison Ave. from 38th St. to 23rd St. It certainly is one of the most colorful displays of costume and tradition this side of the Atlantic. Many revelers lined up to see this years Grand Marshalls, Bollywood star Sunny Deol and NBA Sacramento Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive. One of the more festive parts of the parade was when the traditional dance group of Jallosh
came dancing down Madison Ave. to the rhythmic drum beat. That was a fun group and got the crowd ready for a fun-filled day of color and pageantry. Spirituality is a vital part of the various parts of Indian culture whether its Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Sikhs. No matter the faith, they were represented in the parade. Many different parts of the entertainment industry made their grand appearance…from Bollywood stars to MTV stars to the most enthusiastic float of all, the one with Bhangra superstar Daler Mehndi. It’s always good to see how the young interprets traditional music into their own style. It happens in every culture throughout the world and was clearly evident when the float of StarPlus made their dance moves
to the receptive crowd. Bringing in the new with respect for the old traditions is a beautiful sight to see. On that same note, the Daily News float carried a dozen beautiful young ladies in colorful traditional costumes. For about two hours on a hot sunny day in mid-August, you felt as though you were in the magic and beauty of India…right on Madison Ave. in NY.