The second leg of the Chinese Lunar New Year brought us to Flushing, the largest neighborhood in Queens, NY. Flushing has greatly benefitted from the recent immigration of people mainland Chinese, Taiwan, Korea, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan . A diverse mix of higher end stores and typical everyday stores is present all throughout Flushing especially on Main St., right on the parade route. It didn’t take long for Rachel and I to find a cafe to stay warm and grab a quick snack and a cafe latte. On the corner of Queens Crossing shopping mall, we entered the Euro influenced Paris Baguette Cafe and were treated to some delicious fruit filled pastries. Just outside the cafe on 38th Ave., the marchers were beginning to assemble in a peaceful and orderly manner. Parade monitors were busily checking off members as they arrived. Numbered signs were carried high to direct marchers where to unite. Some young musicians kept warm by banging on the drums while an older group of Korean marchers dressed in colorful costumes chanted and danced in a circle in a dress rehearsal for the parade.
Three mounted policemen trotted their horses in front of the NYPD band to signal the start of the parade. The middle horse became edgy at the sound of the loud drums and almost pushed another horse into the crowd. The officer was able to control the horse and the parade kickoff began. The main parade organizers, the Chinese Business Association, proudly displayed their banner as they marched and waved to the crowd. They were followed by local district politicians and dignitaries and Korean Veterans of the Vietnam War. Then the fun began with a full display of colorful costumes from Korean cultural outreach marchers and bands both young and old. Soon followed a large float from the World Journal newspaper with their Lion Dance and after them a just as large group from St. John’s University showed off their fierce Lions.
The potential for controversy was avoided when a mainland China group, the China Anti-Cult World Alliance, marched a few floats ahead of the largest contingency, Falun Dafa, a spiritual and politically active group banned by the Chinese government. They both marched peacefully in honor of the event although there have been prior altercations years earlier in Flushing. The Tianguo Marching band was by far one of the highlights of the parade. They have set the standard for other marching bands in NYC parades to meet. They were followed by dazzling costumed ladies in traditional robes and decorative fans. Falun Dafa members displayed their customary banners stating three basic principles..Truthfulness…Compassion…Forebearance. The dragon dancers displayed high energy, great coordination and choreography..a true crowd pleaser. The lantern bearers marched just before a group of women danced to the beat of their own drums closing out the parade. Main St. was a mass of wall to wall people. Estimates place attendance to be near 30,000 people. Most of those crowded to see the grand finale, a fireworks display at Queens Crossing right where Rachel and I had some coffee earlier . Honorary VIP NYC Comptroller John Liu was present to watch twelve long red ribbons embedded with firecrackers crackle loudly along 38th Ave. The tradition to ward off the evil spirits was accomplished in a blaze of smoke much to the cheer and delight of thousands of onlookers. Rachel and I weren’t able to stay for many of the family friendly post parade activities throughout Queens Crossing but we truly enjoyed the display of Asian culture, music and costume.
For more pictures click on this blog’s photo links and
CNN ireport link:http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-556278
Our next stop: March 6th, Staten Island. St. Patrick’ Day Parade. 12:30 -4:30. Forest Ave. and Hart Ave.
Then the Granddaddy of all parades: March 17. St. Patrick’s Day. The longest existing parade in the US. 11am to 4:30pm..5th Ave. from 44th St to 86th St. NYC.