Double Dragons Deliver Good Times at Year of the Dog Parade in Chinatown

25 Feb

Double Dragons Steal the Show

     A rainy morning gave way just in time for the 19th annual start of the Chinese Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown. This is the Year of the Dog in Chinese astrology and is one of the most important festivals in China. It lasts for about 15 days and brings families together for a time of tradition and celebration.  The parade route along Mott St. in Chinatown was filled with thousands of people eager to see the dancing lions and dragons. Many young kids had their red envelopes ready to feed the lions for good luck. As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade with the NYPD Marching Band behind them to kick things off. A perennial favorite, the Staten Island Lions, had the honorary lead Dancing Lions followed by parade VIPs and dignitaries with Better Chinatown founder, Steven Tin, leading the way.


Dancing Dragons


Better Chinatown Founder Steven Tin 


Staten Island Lions Getting Things Started


     Plenty of local community groups got involved in a display of unity including the Tai Pun Residents Association group with their version of Dancing Lions. Local PS 130 always sends their students with a proud display of smaller versions of Dancing Lions. A fan favorite, Families With Children from China, always show off their version of animal of the zodiac for that year. There were plenty of happy dogs on display. By far, the grandest display came from World Journal with their Dancing Lions and colorful Double Dragons. They really got into the celebration with parade revelers reaching over to touch the dragons head for good luck. The soggy weather held off just in time for the thousands of people that came out to enjoy the grand holiday.



Gong Hei Fat Choy


A Howling Good Time In Flushing For the Lunar New Year

18 Feb

Double Dragon Fortuna

     Hundreds of marchers were getting ready near Queens Crossing on Main St. in Flushing,  for the start of the annual Chinese Lunar New Year parade. This is one of the most important festivals in the Asian community and usually lasts about 2 weeks. 2018 is the year of the Earth Dog according to Chinese astrology. I especially like this neighborhood parade because of the great food digs especially along Prince St.  Flushing is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country and home  to over 200 places of worship within a 2.5 square mile radius and remains a model of plurality and an example of how different religions can coexist in harmony.  Commercial and residential development is on the rise in Flushing with the near completion of Tangramnyc and mounting pressure on the City to revamp the area adjacent to Citifield, home of the NY Mets. With all the new progress on the horizon, the parade helps keep tradition going with thousands of people lined up along the parade route to rub the nose of one of the dancing lions or  elegant dragons for good luck and prosperity.


Dancing Lions


Falun Dafa


Dragon Greeting the Crowd


     As usual with these parades, the mounted police signals the start of the parade. VIPs and dignitaries carried a large banner announcing the event with the NYPD Marching Band getting things started. This year, the Chinese groups led of the parade with the World Journal double dragon Fortuna wagging their tail down the parade route. They got the crowd really worked up. A returning  favorite were the DCH Racing Group Dancing Lions. They really got into it and were tossing lettuce leaves into the crowd, a symbol of good fortune. Several loyal community groups followed with their banners and well wishes for a Happy New Year. The largest of these groups is Falun Dafa, with their huge marching band. This year they added a few dancing lions and more flags. Their presence keeps growing with their positive messages and beliefs. Closing out the parade were the large Korean marchers with their traditional dress, traditional drummers and military war veterans barking orders to their group to stay in line. They were getting lots of love from the crowd especially since the Winter Olympics are being held in Pyeongchang.  The parade always closes out with a pyrotech display of thousands of firecrackers being lit. What an explosive way to kick off the parade season in NYC.


Xinnian kuaile

New Balloons Steal the Show At The Thanksgiving Day Parade

24 Nov

Olaf Greeting the Crowd

     The tell tale signs that Winter is coming was seen in the faces of the well over 2 million people lined up for the greatest parade in NYC. Frosty temperatures couldn’t stop the crowd visiting from all over the globe to see great marching bands, the famous large balloons, celebrities and hundreds of clowns. The 91st annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade starts on the upper West Side and makes its way down 6th Ave. towards Herald Square in front of Macy’s where the parade is broadcast to millions all across the world. It’s a grand finale to a year of some great parades in the City. With extra security in place, parade revelers felt relieved with the visible presence.  This year the honorary lead band was from Prairie View A&M Marching Storm. They got things started with blaring brass sections and precision marching. They really got the crowd worked up for what would be a morning of gratitude and fun for kids from 5 to 95.


Gulfport In The House


Super Wings Jett Ready to Take Off


Chase the Happy Pooch


     There were plenty of celebrities to perform and wave to the adoring crowd including legendary music icons Patti LaBelle and Smokey Robinson. The parade showcases some of the top marching bands in the country. A nice treat was the Nations Ford HS MB from Fort Mill, South Carolina. Everyone stared in amazement at the huge balloons that are as big as houses.  Sending a reminder to everyone of the chilly temperature was Olaf, a huge balloon from a character in the blockbuster hit Frozen. The regular balloon participants made their way along the 2.5 mile parade route. Ronald McDonald, the Red Power Ranger and Charlie Brown are among the tallest balloons ranging up to 50 feet tall and need about 90 handlers to make sure the huge balloons don’t wander off into the crowd.  Another marching band from Trumbull CT, the Golden Eagles soared with high notes and precision.  A really friendly band came up from West Harrison HS Gulfport, MS. They had a fun time and brought their Southern hospitality with them. The Ohio University MB had a great drum line that really got the crowd worked up.


Patti LaBelle Having Fun with the Crowd


Patriotic Clowns


Spongebob Squarepants and his Clowns


     The parade has the largest collection of clowns on the planet. They all greeted the crowd with  joyful exuberance especially the kids that were being thrilled with the spectacle that only Macy’s can create. Once the huge Elf On the Shelf balloon appeared that was everyone’s clue that the grand finale was about to happen. Everyone looks forward to Rudolph and Co. hauling a sled with the one and only Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus waving to the crowd. The kids and adults all loved it.


NYPD Marching Band Enjoying Their Turn


Grinch Looking For Trouble


Santa and Mrs. Claus with Rudolph Leading the Way


     There was plenty to be thankful this year. Thanks to all the parade organizers for continuing their traditions and passing it on to the next generation. Thanks to all the marchers that created great costumes and banners. Thanks to all the marching bands that rehearsed for endless hours to get the song and march right for us to enjoy. Thanks to all the NYPD and FDNY and Sanitation that helped keep us safe and ready for emergencies and clean up after the festive events. And thank you the reader and viewer for helping keep this blog going.

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It Really Is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year


America Celebrates It’s Vets In Grand New York Style

13 Nov

Flags of Honor

     On the coldest day of the year so far, the 98th NYC Veteran’s Day Parade was getting prepped with ceremonies and laying of the wreaths at Madison Square Park on 23rd St. and Madison Ave. This is the largest Veteran’s Day Parade in the country and always brings out the best in our Armed Forces and all the people and organizations that support our Vets. It’s the culmination of a week long celebration of Veteran’s Week.  After the 21 gun salute at the Eternal Light Flagstaff at Madison Square Park, marchers gathered on 5th Ave. to get ready for a grand celebration. With temperatures still in the 20s at the start of the parade, there was still a large crowd on the parade route waiting for their heroes to arrive. As much as I wanted to complain about the cold weather, I reminded myself how some of the very people being honored endured much harsher elements far from home to defend our freedom and our way of life. So I just sucked it up and got excited when I saw one of the first groups marching up the parade route. A sacred relic recovered after the 9/11 attack was prominently displayed by the Ground Zero Flag Group with everyone applauding as they marched up chanting USA…USA..USA. The applaud kept going as Grand Marshall Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon and Korean War veteran waved to the crowd from the convertible. Parade organizers celebrated the 100th anniversary of the US entry into WW1  with a group replicating marching soldiers. It was nice but didn’t have horses that played a huge role in military efforts in that War.


Buzz Aldrich Waving To the Crowd


WW1 Army Soldiers ready to serve


Air Force Honor Guard

     All the US military forces send Honor Guards, marching bands and junior corp groups as a show of force and to honor vets with dignity. The first group to land was the Air Force Honor Guard with their sharp blue uniforms and elite marching band. They got the crowd worked up as they made their way to the reviewing stand in front of the New York Public Library on 41st St. The New York City Veteran’s Day Parade is also a chance for marching bands across the country to show off their tunes. One of the better bands to arrive came from Hinsdale, Illinois with their devil red uniforms. The first of the floats with our beloved vets arrived with WW2 fighters waving to the crowd. They were soon followed by the Daughters of the American Revolution float and the Korean War vets float. One of the loudest groups emerged with the Vietnam Vets and the Iraqi/Afghanistan Vets kicking up some dirt. Support groups raised awareness about their efforts to help vets integrate back into the workforce or continue to get assistance for every aspect of life.  The Wounded Warrior Project continues to have the largest representation at the parade. Another marching band from Marion, North Carolina made its way up the parade route.  McDowell HS Marching Band got the crowd worked up for the next Armed Forces band. The 77th Sustainable Army Brigade Marching Band played the traditional Army song. The Marine Corp. are too consumed with military protocol to have a marching band but Maury HS Commodores had their back.


WW2 Vets Being Honored


Go Navy


Coast Guard Marching Up 5th Ave.


     This year’s most impressive band had to be the Navy with members of the USS Hue City coming on board the parade route with lots of energy. The lead group got into it more when I yelled out Go Navy. Beat Army, referring to the classic annual football game to close out the season. They had a great group and were soon followed by the Coast Guard with their PT boat and marching band. Local colleges and universities sent their reps to help honor the vets. Showing the off the best float was the rocking Fairleigh Dickinson University  with Coyote Love having some fun with the crowd. They were awesome. It was a great parade in honor of the men and women that sacrificed so much to help make the US safe. Thank You.



Thanks For Your Sacrifice Vets!!

Lone Wolf Doesn’t Scare NYers on Halloween

1 Nov

You Think You Scare Us??

     Just about 5 hours before the start of the 44th annual Halloween parade in the Village in NYC, an evil act of senseless murder of 8 innocent people happened in the first terrorist attack since 9/11 in downtown Manhattan. This cowardly act only brings New Yorkers together to be stronger and more resilient than before. Of course any loss of life due to this despicable act is one life too many and let me stop by extending my sympathy for the families that have been directly impacted by the idiot that rented a truck to cause harm. If he thought he was going to cause fear in the hearts with terror, he was sadly mistaken as over a million people lined the parade route on 6th Ave. to make history once again. The Village Halloween parade is the largest of its kind in the world. It’s the one of the largest parades at night and is broadcast locally. All you need is a costume and you can get on the parade route and be part of the biggest Halloween party of its kind.


NY Gov Cuomo, Jeanne Fleming, Mayor DiBlasio In Unity


Cabinet of Curiosity


Day of the Dead Costumer


     The scent of burning sage and tossing of the magic dust with blessings from angels dressed in white lets the eager crowd know the parade is about to get started. But there was a show of strength and unity this year. In direct response to the truck incident earlier, both NY State Governor Cuomo and Mayor DiBlasio joined Parade Director Jeanne Fleming just in front of the hundreds of puppets the parade is famous for. Now that was a true NY moment. Nothing scares us. It just makes us stronger. New Yorkers go about their business as usual with even more attitude. Costumers were set on making this a Halloween parade to remember and that it was.


Animal Collection


Marni Putting On a Scare


Just Malificent


     Every year a different theme is picked by the parade committee and this years was the old Renaissance Cabinet of Curiosity with drawings of animal heads torso and tails made up in different combinations at the start of the parade.  It was truly a sight to behold and set the tone for what would be a great display of New York creativity. The parade shows off various floats and performing bands in costume with throngs of costumers showing off their great ideas for the event. There were tons of Day of the Dead make up artists and more than my share of creepy clowns. Getting things warmed up for the crowd was the Samba NY group with their samba dancing Wonder Women. They were great. A perennial favorite with a bigger and bigger dance group is Thriller NYC with a tribute to the great Michael Jackson. They always get lots of love from the crowd. Not too far behind them were the all female Brazilian drum band FogoAzul NYC with a fun drum beat with a dancing lioness getting the crowd all worked up. This parade draws all cultures and people looking to have a fun time. The Mexican chinelos had a large group dancing their special homage to Day of the Dead. They were followed by thousands of parade revelers having a great time and doing what New Yorkers do ….staring adversity straight in the face without a flinch. We don’t back down…EVER!!!!   Scare ya Later.



I know what scares YOU!!!


A Howling Good Time at Tompkins Square Park

22 Oct

Best In Show For the Top Dogs

     Every year for the last 27 years, our four legged friends have dragged their owners out to the grandest display of dog fashion and creativity in the Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade. This is said to be the largest parade of it’s kind in the country and quite possibly the world. The event wags its tail every year with media coming in from all parts of the country. Dogs bring their owners from as far as Italy and Canada to participate. The warmer than usual weather brought out thousands to Tompkins Square Park in Alphabet City in the Lower East Side of NYC. Normally the stage is set up in the dog run but the larger crowds forced use of the multi-purpose courts which made the best sense. A stage was set up with 3 emcees announcing all the contestants. Sponsors including Rubie’s Pet Shop and about 4 rescue organizations contributed to gift cards for pet supplies. Some dogs were rescued from hurricane impacted areas of Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas. Pooches vied for the top Best In Show prize that was for $250 and tickets to Hamilton on Broadway.


2nd Place Winner Licking his Chops


3rd Place Winner Marie Antoinette


Stunning Cruella DeVille


     The parade is a precursor to the annual Village Halloween Parade and if this is any indication of what one can expect, the Halloween Parade will be just howling mad. NYers are best known for their creativity and this parade was no exception. For those paws that stuck around for top prizes there was no disappointment at all. No one had bones to pick with anyone else. In third place was the the elegant yet hair raising Marie Antoinette.  Digging into second place was the lovable Pawskank Redemption group recreating the famous prison cell from the famous cult-movie.  Muzzling every one else and leading the pack was the Pawline New York Sightseeing bus. They were a nose above the other great contestants.  This is a great NYC event and is a must see for all animal lovers.







Panamanians Proud of Their Polleras and Bands

11 Oct

Beautiful Pollera

     The largest Independence Day celebration outside of Panama is held every year for the past 22 years on Franklin Ave. in Crown Heights in Brooklyn USA. Each year the marchers and revelers keep growing in size with bands coming in from Maryland, Georgia and from Panama and of course hometown Brooklyn. There are folkloric dancers and women dressed in their traditional polleras with men in guayabera shirts. It is quite spectacular to see how ornate the women dress and follow their tradition. The warm weather had the streets of Franklin Ave. lined up with revelers waiting for things to kick off and once the Elite Riders Motorcycle Club appeared the crowd got revved up.


Hon. Shawndya Luisa Simpson and Jose Francis


A grand festival like no other


Georgia’s In the House

     This years Grand Marshalls were presented in pre-parade ceremonies. The Honorable Shawndya Luisa Simpson, current Assistant Attorney General for NY State, and Jose Francis,  Host of Rinconcito Panameno en Nueva York, a popular TV show in the Panamanian community. Once parade VIPs and dignitaries make their way down the parade route, they settle in at the reviewing stand on President Ave. where many bands display their talents.  The lead band came all the way from Colon in Panama and they did not disappoint. A group that was having a lot of fun were the Campesinos Internacional   banging on the congas and having a spirited dance. They were soon followed by a group of folkloric dancers with ladies in their fancy polleras and probably one of the best floats of the parade.


Lovely Beauty Queen


The Band Striking It Up


Proud Display of Flags

     One of the best things about this parade is the bands come from all over to play their drums and bugles. It is a unique experience for the many of these marchers since it’s their first time in NYC. Kicking off the proud display of talent was the Jose Santos Foca Banda de Musica soon followed by Monsenor Francisco Beckman Marching Band. They can play with any band from the US. A perennial favorite is the Instituto Jose Dolores Moscote Marching Band. They keep getting better each year. The King of Kings Marching Band and  Banda Evangelica El Elion made their presence known to the very happy and proud crowd. The band that had the best uniform had to go the Panamanian Band from Atlanta. Their red white and blue uniforms got the crowd buzzing. Saving some of the best for last was a newer group, ARCIA, that showed off their precision. Great job. Of course, the host band, the 1st International Panamanian Marching Band of Brooklyn showed why their one of the best. This really was an an amazing parade to witness and one the most festive neighborhood parades this year.  After the parade was over, there was more festivities and food available on Classon Ave. where the party kept on going.

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Que Viva Panama

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