Archive | September, 2013

Germans Getting Louder at the Steuben

23 Sep
Maypole at the Steuben

Maypole at the Steuben

     Every culture has its own custom in how they celebrate their heritage. That’s why covering parades in NYC is so much fun and insightful into how people from far away pay tribute to their own.  The German American community has always been orderly and punctual and for the most part quiet. Not this year. Either the beer was flowing early or the various groups that flew in from Germany and surrounding areas were in a more than usual festive mood.  In this the 56th edition of the Steuben Day Parade, where Prussian General von Steuben is honored for his leadership during the American Revolution, many large groups from Germany marched up the parade route on 5th Ave.  and 67th up to 86th St.  One of the best things about this parade is to see and hear the various marching bands from Germany, a treat any New Yorker would enjoy. A band that got the crowd worked up for a day of fun and celebration were the Liesborner marching band playing a nice tune and then singing in German. Several beer floats rolled by with some really fun groups getting into the swing of things but probably the best one was the Erdinger float with some really happy gals working the crowd and loving it.

Getting nice on the beer float

Getting nice on the beer float

German costume

German costume

Another round anyone?

Another round anyone?

     It’s fun to watch all the traditional costume and dress of Germany. You just never know what to expect. They are all different. While the Irish and Scottish men wear kilts, the German men wear long shorts that could pass for pajamas. Great for a parade not so sure about a basketball game on 4th St.  Another band that played eloquently came from the Landkreis Kumbach marching band. One noticeable difference in this years parade was the float showing the German and French Alliance with invited guests from Alsace and Brittany. Guess time does heal some deep wounds.  One of my favorite parts of the parade is when the VWs come up 5th Ave. both old and new ones. A parade favorite has always been the German dogs walking their owners to the crowds delight.  Keeping the energy level up came a float with Zum Stemmtisch playing a really upbeat tune the crowd really enjoyed. The drum only marching band of Reservisten Trammlerzug lead the way for an interesting group of marchers.  One of the better bands I thought were the marching band of Bedbucdyck. Their uniforms and march and tune scored high notes. All in all it was one of the better Steuben parades I have been to. And as always the marchers headed over to Central Park for more celebration, food and what else beer…lots of beer and good times.

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Harlem Shakes in Celebration of the African American Parade

16 Sep
Band leader in charge

Band leader in charge

     Parade revelers were lining up on the sun filled Sunday afternoon on Adam Clayton Blvd. waiting to see the start of the largest African American parade in the country. Marching bands and organizations from over 12 states walked past the shadow of the world famous Apollo Theater with pride, dignity and respect for each other.  The 44th annual celebration of African American heritage and culture began differently from previous years as the usual marching band from Cheney University was absent. No worries though as the Camden HS Marching Band made up for it and played loud and proud. Parade organizers and local politicians including Congressman Charles Rangel and former mayoral candidate Bill Thompson waved to the crowd to get things started for a fun filled day.  This year the women’s organizations came out strong to support women owned businesses and  educational organizations supporting higher education. Every year large photos of the heroes of the community are carried as a reminder of the sacrifices that were made long ago to advance the cause of justice and freedom for today.  Soon after came a group calling for a boycott of Florida and justice for the tragic death of Trayvon Martin.

Charles Rangel

Charles Rangel

Heroes

Heroes

Proudly waving the African flag

Proudly waving the African flag

A different take to the parade this year were the Buffalo Soldiers riding in on their stylized cycles. The crowd woke up some  especially when some hit the throttle and made some thunderous noise. Guess it was a nice introduction for what was to follow when the first of several marching bands came down the parade route shaking things up.  The Baltimore Entertainers got things under way with their heavy thumping drum beat. They were warming things up for the Baltimore Go Getters as they showed off their dance moves but wait it keeps getting better.  As the New Baltimore Twilighters were making their way up the parade route one of the dancers spotted Mickey Mouse trying to steal their thunder and hopped over the fence to show him how shake it in Harlem.  A smaller group called The Band had a really high energy show for the crowd. The band that got the most praise from the crowd though had to be the Baltimore Westsiders. They really tore it up. Not to be outdone was the colorful and high energy band of Mass Destruction. Closing out the proud display of high stepping bands were the New Edition. I think the had the best drum corp of all.  As a tradition the parade closed out with black cowboys and their beautiful horses. A nice treat for any city kid from 4 to 94. This parade lived up to the hype. Great job all.

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Black and White Queen Shines at the West Indian Day Parade

4 Sep
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Queen of the Parade

 The excitement was building up early on Eastern Parkway in anticipation of the 46th annual West Indian Day Parade. Soggy weather didn’t dampen any of the festivities of the Labor Day tradition. As soon as you made it to Eastern Parkway the smell of spicy foods, jerk chicken, wood and charcoal burning, loud soca, reggae and calypso music and marchers dressed in costume let everyone know this was to be a fantastic day of celebration.  Brooklyn is home to the most diverse and largest population of West Indians in the city and the roughly two million strong came out to party and dance to their favorite songs. The West Indian Labor Day Parade is unlike any other in the city.  The parade starts around Schenactady Ave. and Eastern Parkway; if you hear a truck playing your favorite song you can hop over the railing and join the group and dance all the way to Grand Army Plaza…hop an a train and ride a few stops to the start of the parade and do it all over again.  Of course you can always walk back and stop at the many kiosks for some delicious Caribbean food. Close to noon came the distant sound of the NYPD steel drum band to let everyone know the parade was kicking off.

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Bill DeBlasio working the crowd

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Masqueraders having fun

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Indians at play

     This being an election year and the election primary just a week away, all the political hopefuls were out in full force to make their presence known. All the politicians were out shaking hands and mixing it up with crowd even though Weiner mostly stayed on his float…guess he was too busy texting to come down and greet the crowd. Front runner Bill DeBlasio had the largest supporters of any mayoral hopeful with Quinn and Thompson close behind..quite similar to the recent polls.  All in all it was about an hour of politicians schmoozing it up and making one last appeal to the Caribbean community. Then the fun really started with the first of many trucks loaded with monster speakers played the crowds favorite songs with the mc leading the way for that group. Lots of masqueraders in their colorful costumes with feathers and little else on danced their way down the parade route. The first major group were the Savage Paradise group with lots of costumes representing the diverse culture. Not far behind them was the Ramajay Mas group that really got the crowd worked up with their music and sexy dancing. They had one of the best presentations with their Then and Now theme dance. I am sure they scored high points with the judges. Soon after them came the highlight of the parade with the breathtaking costume of this year’s Queen winner, the black and white Queen.  She was amazing to watch. Nothing after that matched the detail and glamorous style of the Queen. Another group that was fun to watch were the TNT Boys. The party just kept on going with truck after truck after truck blaring some good sounds for everyone to dance to from one side of Eastern Parkway to the other. Of all the parades I watched this year, this parade is by far the most fun I have had.  If you have a pulse, you will have fun.  Raise your flag!!!

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