Holiday weekends are often retreats from the everyday work week and a time to gather with friends and family to rest. There was no rest this weekend as the first of three parades in the city was about to get started. Rachel and I started hearing the preparade buzz around 51st and Madison as the 30th annual Turkish Day Parade and Festival was getting ready. The hot midsummer weather felt more like July than May. Marching bands were tuning up while soccer teams and their fans were stretching out their team flags in preparation of their turn to march. The blaring police sirens announced the start of the parade as the Turkish Consulate General Mr. Mehmet Samsar, Turkish Ambassador Mr. Namik Tan and President of the Federation of Turkish American Associations Mr. Kaya Boztepe among other Turkish officials proudly sang the Turkish National anthem. They made their way to the reviewing stands at 48th St. and awaited the arrival of the procession. Marchers carrying large Turkish and American flags waved to the crowd and saluted the VIPs. with an enormous mural of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk getting the largest applause from the crowd. The dignitaries all stood and saluted the depiction of the founder of modern Turkey.
Various clubs and organizations made their way down Madison Ave. and turned on 47th as they made their way to Dag Hammarskjold Park near the Turkish Consulate. Although the parade is primarily a celebration of Turkish culture and contribution to American society, there were other regional countries with fancy floats including ones from Azerbaijan and Crimea. Cem Sarioglu was waving a large American flag and informed me the main reason he was at the parade was to support his favorite soccer team from Fenerbache who won the championship match this year. The team supporters carried their large flag in front of the reviewing stand and jumped up and down as though they had won the match again. A parade just isn’t a parade without a marching band and there were a few of note including two all girl bands from Mother Cabrini and Cathedral HS and a Spaniard bagpipe band from Queens representing Unity Gallega (Casa Galicia). One of the floats having the most fun were the Flying Eagles soccer team with blaring upbeat music and lots of dancing all around as everyone made their way to the Festival.
At Dag Hammarskjold Park, the Festival was getting crowded with lots of vendors and food being sold with lots of entertainment on the way including two famous stars from Turkey, Ferhat Gocer and Linet sang for the crowd and marked a finale to the largest Turkish parade and festival in North America. Rachel and I couldn’t help but get caught up in all the excitement and good times the Turks were having even though Rachel is still looking for one of the coolest T-shirts some the crowd had on. Guess she will have to go to Jersey for that one.
For additional pictures go to the Photograph link on the right side.