New Balloons Steal the Show At The Thanksgiving Day Parade

24 Nov
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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.

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Gulfport In The House

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Super Wings Jett Ready to Take Off 

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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.

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Patti LaBelle Having Fun with the Crowd

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Patriotic Clowns

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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.

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NYPD Marching Band Enjoying Their Turn

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Grinch Looking For Trouble

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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
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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.

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Buzz Aldrich Waving To the Crowd

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WW1 Army Soldiers ready to serve

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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.

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WW2 Vets Being Honored

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Go Navy

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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.

 

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Thanks For Your Sacrifice Vets!!

Lone Wolf Doesn’t Scare NYers on Halloween

1 Nov
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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.

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NY Gov Cuomo, Jeanne Fleming, Mayor DiBlasio In Unity

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Cabinet of Curiosity

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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.

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Animal Collection

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Marni Putting On a Scare

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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.

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I know what scares YOU!!!

 

A Howling Good Time at Tompkins Square Park

22 Oct
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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.

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2nd Place Winner Licking his Chops

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3rd Place Winner Marie Antoinette

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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.

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Panamanians Proud of Their Polleras and Bands

11 Oct
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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.

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Hon. Shawndya Luisa Simpson and Jose Francis

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A grand festival like no other

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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.

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Lovely Beauty Queen

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The Band Striking It Up

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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

Hispanics Beaming With Cultural Display on 5th Ave.

11 Oct
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Viva La Hispanidad

The largest display of Hispanic culture in the US occurred this past Sunday on 5th Ave. with over 18 Spanish-speaking nations united to represent their particular customs through costume and dance in the 53rd annual Hispanic Day Parade. October is known as Hispanic Heritage month and this was one huge celebration of all the contributions made to help build this country. NYC is the largest Hispanic city in the country and the parade helps remind revelers of traditional customs from their motherland.  Light rain early on did not stop the hundreds of thousands of revelers from lining up the parade route from 44th to 72nd Sts. The weather cleared up some and the fun started when the mounted police signaled the start of the parade. This years honorary lead group was ARCIA Drum and Bugle Corp. representing Panama. They got things warmed up for a spectacular day of cultural display and unity among nations. After parade VIPs and dignitaries made their way up to the reviewing stand on 64th St., a group of young dancers dressed in traditional Spaniard flamenco attire showed off some of their moves. A surprise display was a mural from Spanish artist Leyton with his homage to Pablo Picasso. The parade always starts off with Spain as the lead group since they were one of the first Europeans to cross the Atlantic to the New World.  Casa Galicia represented Spain with their traditional bagpipe marching band.

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Homage to Picasso

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El Salvador Bringing It

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Panamanian Polleras

 

The sequence of the parade always goes in alphabetical order even though the Bolivians always have more groups than anyone else and scatter them throughout the parade. Argentina displayed a float with a pair of tango dancers and a classy singer pumping out national tunes with heartfelt tones. Bolivians have some of the most diverse of any groups. They have Tinkus with a very energetic dance and colorful costumes and Morenales which have a slower paced dance and the favorite Caporales paying homage to San Simon. Chileans came up the parade route with their Huasos (cowboys) and lovely partners performing a Cueca dance, the National dance of Chile. Then the party really got started when the Colombians made their way up the parade route. Last years Appreciation Award winner returned in full force with the Carnavalers From Baranquilla. They were one of the most energetic groups and proud to show off their magnificent costumes. Soon after them was the traditional Colombian Cumbia dance group. A bit more toned down but still fun to watch. Costa Rica showed off their beauty queen while the Dominican Republic sent their mischievous diablos to crack their whips.

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Spaniards Taking the Lead  

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Dominican Diablos Getting Fired Up

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Bolivian Angels Flying Up the Parade Route

 

 Ecuador had traditional dancers showing their moves. A show stealer was definitely the El Salvador Torito Pinto Marching Band down from Boston. Their marching band was a diverse instrumental band with a large brass band section that tore it up. Guatemala sent a nice band from Trenton, NJ. Honduras had a nice float with traditional dancers. Mexico had a good diverse group with Indians and a nice group performing the Danze de los Tecuanes (dance of the Jaguar). Nicaragua displayed an original artwork of unifying flags from Hispanic nations. Panama always brings a large a proud display of culture. They are very proud of their bugle and drum bands as well as their traditional polleras. It truly was an amazing sight. Paraguay sent their cowboys and cowgirls. They always send a group of ladies performing the folkloric Danza de las Botellas (The Bottle Dance). Peru had a nice group of traditional dancers. Puerto Rico had a group of salsa dancers but more importantly had a large banner of where to donate to help recover from one the most disastrous hurricanes to claim the island. Have no doubt, Puerto Rico will rise even stronger than before. Uruguay had a float with traditional Candombe band but its really better to watch them march and dance instead of riding on a float. Wrapping things up was Venezuela with a nice float and fun dancers.

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Jaguar Scaring the Crowd

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Panamanian Float

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Paraguay Bottle Dancers

 

This was one of the better parades of the year. It showed the diversity and strength of the Hispanic culture. People from all parts of the world come in to march and watch a grand extravaganza that made anyone watching captivated by its glory and passion.

 

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Que Alegria..What Happiness

Polish People Proudly Display Traditions at the Pulaski

2 Oct
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Shall We Dance…

After rain outs the last few years, warm azure blue skies were a perfect backdrop to celebrate the 80th annual Pulaski Day parade. The parade route along 5th Ave. from 36th to 53rd Sts. was lined up with red and white flags as thousands of parade revelers waved their flags. Huge crowds were assembled by the reviewing stand on 41st St. in front of the NY Public Library awaiting the start of the parade and the ceremonial welcoming with bread and salt, (“chlebem i solą” ). There was a group in traditional costume that paired off with parades VIPs to celebrate the start of the parade. Although this parade honors the famous Revolutionary War hero, Casimir Pulaski, around the time of his death on October 11 in the Siege of Savannah, the parade also honored  Tadeusz Kosciuszko as a hero of two nations.  Groups from the Tri-state area came in droves to celebrate and show their Polish pride. As usual the mounted police signaled the start of the parade. The parade was being broadcast back to the homeland in Poland by television and radio. A special treat was when the Polish army marching band played a nice tune for the crowd.

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Let The Fun Begin

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Polish Army Marching Band

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Proudly Displaying Banner

 

The Polish people are a very religious people and had various church groups from all over the area send representatives. There was a big devotion to Pope John Paul II who was of Polish descent. Just about every group sent a Miss Polonia beauty queen to be part of the parade. Two groups that had the largest marchers were the Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union, the largest ethnic credit union in the country,  and the Unknown Bikers Motorcycle club. Both made lots of noise at the parade.  A fun group to watch was the Traditional Folk Dancers with their waltz like dance and great costumes.  The crowd loved them. Another perennial favorite is the Hawthorne Caballeros Alumni Bugle and Drum Corps. They always play it up for the crowd. One of the more lively floats came from Wallington, NJ with a band playing a tune in Polish.  It was great to see all the traditional costumes and revelers taking in the sights with great pride and love of their motherland.

 

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A Great Parade It Was

                                                            długa żywą polską

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