Indians Glowing in Pride and Love of Country

22 Aug
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Ghandi lookalike

The parade route along Madison Ave. was buzzing with thousands of revelers waiting for the festivities to begin. In this version of the 36th celebration of Indian independence, the crowd was not disappointed with a wonderful display of culture, color and dance. Outside of India, this is the largest celebration of independence with well over a hundred thousand people coming out to show their love of country. Plenty of flags were waving as the crowd was eagerly awaiting Grand Marshall and Bollywood celebrity Abhishek Bachchan to make his way to the reviewing stand along 28th St. and Madison Ave. He was greeted with the ovation of a superstar by his loving fans. Then things got a bit louder when a crowd favorite, Jai Bharat, marched down the parade route with drums banging loud and proud. They really got things worked up. An annual favorite local band from Secaucus, NJ, Swamibapa Pipe Band made their way down the parade route. Another drum band that really had a fun time was Jallosh with their traditional costumes and dance. This group has grown over the years.

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Jai Bharat getting down

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Bollywood Actor Abhishek Bachchan

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Swamibapa Pipe Band

India is a nation that is very spiritual and sent many representatives to display their love and devotion to humankind. Chief Guest Yoga guru Baba Ramdev made his appearance along with other spiritual groups.  These groups had plenty of signs to bring awareness to onlookers. There was a good mix of traditional costume with modern dance and none was better evident than the Sling float. They were very energetic and got the crowd really worked up. After the parade there was a stage set up more dancing and singing right next to Madison Square Park and even more importantly there was some great Indian food right around the corner from the stage.  Yumyum.

 

Sizzling Heat Doesn’t Stop Colombians from Celebrating

27 Jul

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The heatwave that’s had much of the Northeast searching for relief didn’t stop the Colombians from celebrating their independence from Spain. Much of the crowd donned their bright yellow shirts in support of their beloved native land. The yellow is part of the three colors of the Colombian flag..yellow for the vast amount of sunshine and gold found in the land, blue for the beautiful ocean coastline and red for the blood that was shed to have their independence. Neighborhood parades are fun to go to especially all the great food you can find along Northern Blvd in the melting pot of  Jackson Heights in Queens. Kicking off the parade were the youth cadets in their snazzy white uniforms. Soon Queens Borough President Melinda Katz made her way up the parade route. Several honored guests saluted the thousands of revelers up and down Northern Blvd. One float with the best representation of Colombian culture was the food giant Goya float and their hot band. They reallyt got the crowd worked up. Many community groups had their representatives there to show their support for the new parade organizers. This years parade was shorter than previous years but it was still fun and there was plenty of dancing in the streets.

Sea Creatures Flippin’ Fun at the Mermaid Parade

19 Jun

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Nothing means more than the start of summer in New York than the wild and wacky Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Surf Ave. is transformed into an amazing display of sea creature costumes and lovely mermaids. It’s basically the Halloween parade in the daytime but with alot less clothing and just as much fun. The twist is that all entrants do get judged by a panel of highly corrupt judges. Believe me bribery was seen all day long…food, drinks, phone numbers. This year the judges must have had a tough time because so many people came out with some amazing costumes and dance numbers. There was even a marriage proposal right in front of the judges by Neptune and his accepting fiance. Quite a touching moment. But this years King Neptune and Queen Mermaid were having lots of fun on their own. King Neptune, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce CEO Carlo A. Scissura, and the lovely Queen, SI model Hailey Claussen, got jiggy with the all female drum band Batala. The crowd just loved it.

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King Neptune Carlo and lovely Queen Mermaid Hailey

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Marriage Proposal by Neptune

 

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Queen of Hearts Mellisa

People came from all parts of the world and country just march in the parade. There were folks from as far as Australia and Brazil. One mother/daughter entry came up from Louisiana on their very first trip to NYC just to march in the parade. Karen, the mom said she always loved mermaids and wanted to come up to New York with her daughter just for the fun of it. Lots of groups had some crazy costumes and fun dance routines.Danielle made an amazing Seahorse and got a bunch of kids to ride around in scooters with little seahorses. Great job.  The Brooklyn Bombshells got over their technical difficulties at first and then wowed the judges with their fun dance of the Elvis classic…All Shook Up. Talk about shaking it up, the NY Samba group brought some Brazilian flavor to the parade.   But the hits and shaking kept coming when the  Gypsy Funk belly dance group were pleading for some candy.   But probably the best group were the Charm City Tails version of Go Ask Alice with the Queen of Hearts on top of her game. Hats off the lead creator Melissa for the hard work in making it a fun dance routine. The crowd ate it up.  Perennial favorites, The Sexcamaids, to it up as usual. They always have a fun group of dancers. Closing out the big groups was a nice tribute to rock legend David Bowie with a fun rendition of Let’s Dance. What a fitting way to kick off the summer fun. Dance the night away. Have a great summer everyone.

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Have a great summer and dance

 

 

Puerto Ricans Calling for Changes

14 Jun
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Saludos Jibarito

The breezy winds made 5th Ave. feel like you were on  a trip to Old San Juan to visit El Moro and the narrow cobblestone streets of the historic section of the Capitol of Puerto Rico. Just as the breeze was picking up so were the winds of change as many activists were screaming for changes on the island. The recent debt debacle, brilliantly explained by John Oliver,  set off a movement for the many Puerto Ricans here on the mainland and on the island to stand up and fight for their rights. Thousands of marchers helped to raise awareness of issues from the Free Oscar Lopez group to the call for No Promesa, where the people of Puerto Rico rejected the legislation Washington is trying to impose on the island. The group from the town of Arecibo came to celebrate their 500th year of being founded but with a message of resistance to the proposed incinerator in their municipality. Probably the best float of the parade was from the group from Arecibo with a 40 ft. wooden boat. They were loud and proud after a recent victory blocking the sale of a public access beach to private developers.Another great example of how the winds of change is coming to form is how a grassroots group, the Artculturenyc,  has taken up the cause of the toxic ashes blowing in many town in Puerto Rico. A fitting musical interpretation of the changes going was from a musical float with the Orquestra La  Resistencia de Puerto Rico. They tore it up. The loudest of all these movements had to have been from the Yonomequito group and all their supporters. It’s the vibrancy and youthful energy that change can come about.  All these movements reflect how the power and strength of the Puerto Rican people are calling for positive change. If any one of these groups calls your attention, please get involved. Your help makes a difference.

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Free Oscar Lopez

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Rosario Dawson Family Picture

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No Promesa Activists

 

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YoNoMeQuito Working the Crowd

The 59th annual parade up 5th Ave. celebrates the culture and contribution of Puerto Rico to the great city of New York and all over the country. It’s a culmination of a week long celebration of events going on throughout the city. From the Salsa Festival where some of the best dancers show off their moves to a few championship boxing bouts in Madison Square Garden to a concert from Grand Marshall Ednita Nazario at Lehman College, Puerto Ricans were in full party mode.Kicking off the parade was the NYPD Hispanic Society float with a jamming salsa band. They really did a great job and got the crowd worked up for a fun-filled day. Hey FDNY, where was your band?…Sad..sad..sad. One of the best marching bands from the island was from Guaynabo. They can compete with any band from NYC. The crowd got worked up when the King and Queen of the Parade made their appearance. NY Knick superstar, Carmelo Anthony, waved to the crowd. The stunning actress Rosario Dawson was there with her mom and grandmother and posed for a great family picture.  This year the LGBT community sent more representatives than in past years. They were all in sorrow for the senseless massacre that happened just the night before in Orlando.

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NYPD in Fine Form

 

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Baton Twirler Locked In

 

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Vieques Costumer

Without doubt one of the best cultural representations came from the group from Vieques, a small island off the east coast of Puerto Rico. They had a group of drummers and carnival dancers and costumes representing the natural beauty of the island at risk due to human interference. Grand Marshall Ednita Nazario was caught signing an album for an adoring fan.  An inspiring float was from LaBoriquena, a super hero created by Mr. Edgardo. The cool graphic designed tshirts can be purchased at his website, mredgardonyc.deviantart.com, and proceeds help fund scholarships to help college bound students. Some Puerto Ricans would prefer to hit something else other than the books. Undefeated lightweight boxer, Felix Verdejo, fresh off a victory the night before, made his appearance. Woman’s Champions sisters, Cindy and Amanda Serrano, were having fun at the parade. They have a chance to do for women’s boxing what the Williams sister did for tennis..turn it upside down and dominate the sport.

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Mr. Edgardo and La Borinquna

 

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Carmelo Anthony Chilling

 

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Felix Verdejo after a fight the night before

 

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Boxing Champs Cindy and Amanda Serrano

Puerto Ricans love their music and love to dance. Some great floats and dancers showcased their talents at the parade. The Goya float had a kicking band. But without doubt the best band was on the Teamsters Local 237 float. They really tore it up and had the best brass section I’ve heard in a long time. Salsa dancers have always been a big part of the Puerto Rican culture. The art form is alive and well with groups like XDance and the crowd favorite La Tamina. A twirling group that came from Boston, Estrellas Tropicales, made a nice impression on the crowd, but probably the best dance interpretation of Hector Lavoe’s  famous Aguanile was from the South Bronx Kids. They did a great job. With about a million people lining the streets of 5th Ave. waving their flags in pride, the parade was the best of the year so far.

                                   YO SOY BORIQUA PA QUE TU LO SEPA!!

 

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Dancing In the Rain..well almost..

22 May

 

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The 10th annual Dance Parade was spared the heavy rains that arrived later on Saturday. It stayed away long enough for the thousands of dancers to show off their moves to the crowd. This young parade is gaining in popularity as dancers came from all over country and parts of the world to celebrate the most ancient of art forms…dance. This is one of my personal favorites because it’s one of the few parades that brings people together of all cultures and backgrounds and ages to get up and dance. And it doesn’t matter the age. On a few occasions I saw seniors in their 90s dance to the music and kids as young as two trying to find their rhythm. A thing of beauty I tell ya. The parade was delayed slightly because the March Against Monsanto had to pass by the parade route on Broadway and 8th before the dancing started. Back on 22nd St. and Broadway, the buzz was in high gear with lots of dancers getting ready to show off their moves. Once things got started, it was a non-stop party.The parade route turned on 8th St. and  into Tompkins Square Park where there was more dancing on 3 different stages. This years Grand Marshall was an amazing dancer, Kwikstep.   He helped to take break dancing to the next level and helped inspire thousands of dancers to develop new moves and improve their art form.

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The first of many floats arrived with an impressive group of dancers swaying their way down the parade route. The BellyDance America dance group got the crowd really worked up.But they were just warming things up for the high energy San Simon caporales. They always give it their all. A crowd favorite, Danielle Lima and her Samba dancers, always leaves people feeling good. They make you want to join in and have fun. Then the international crowd arrived with groups from Taiwan and Mexico and India showing off their traditional dance moves. They had some amazing costumes. A rather curious group of dancers from the Solstice Tribe  had an original dance that echoed mystery and sensuality. But just as you were being lulled into a sense of serenity, the loud and proud women of Batala woke everyone up with their thunderous drum beats. A good sample of what the parade offers was when the Manhattan Tribal group danced their way the parade route followed by traditional Haitian dancers and the Cobras dance group from Harlem. The best Spanish music representation was from the exciting XDance group. They showed everyone how it’s done as they closed out the parade and asked people to follow them to Tompkins Square Park where the fun and dancing continued. Great job Dance Parade and thanks for honoring Prince on your float.

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A March to End the Madness

22 May

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Although this blog is dedicated to the celebration of life through parades in NYC, the greatest city in the world, it also takes time out to raise awareness of some serious matters that effect us all. There’s nothing more that impacts our daily life than the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink. And pretty much most people know they need to eat good clean healthy foods to live a good healthy life. The issue comes when we don’t know how that food product was made. Hundreds of people united this past Saturday in a March Against Monsanto in part of a worldwide effort to gather support to have all foods labeled that have used GMOs in its production. The GMO debate has gone on for decades but it’s coming under more scrutiny especially that more legislation is aimed at preventing states from labeling food products that have GMOs. Just what is Monsanto hiding by trying to force these laws on states? The giant biotech company also produces the number one selling pesticide in the country, Roundup. More and more research is coming to light about the destructive impact on our environment and how its seeping into our food supply. The March also brought to light just how unfair farmers are treated when dealing with Monsanto. The good thing about this March is how many young people got involved to protest and bring awareness to just what is going into the foods we eat.  Monsanto is making more efforts to make it harder for organic farmers to produce more healthier foods and leave us with fewer choices to eat good quality foods. It’s up to us to make the right choices everyday in the foods we select. It wasn’t too long ago, that having a meal was a celebration of life. The foods we eat become a part of us. I know I want to know what’s going in my body because it could make me sick. And watching the high energy of the marchers, these angels are pushing for labeling laws that would make a difference to both you and me.

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For more information about Monsanto and its tactics, please view these fine documentaries:

The World According to Monsanto.

Seeds of Death

Food Inc.

 

Persians Pour onto Madison Ave. to Celebrate Nowruz

18 Apr

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The warm spring air was inviting many people to come out and bask in the sunlight on a cloudless picture perfect day. If you happened to stroll on Madison Ave. from 38th to 26th Sts. this past Sunday you would have seen one of the most colorful parades in the city this year. The Persian Parade kicked off around noon to the applaud of thousands of revelers lining the parade route waiting to see traditional costume and dance. They were not disappointed in the least. Parade organizers, NY Persian Parade Foundation, use the parade to celebrate Nowruz, an ancient Persian holiday to welcome Spring, thawing of winter. It’s a traditional symbol of hope, rebirth and a time to look forward with family and friends. One thing I admire about this parade is all the time and effort it takes to transform a boring old float into a garden of  color and awe. Kids of all ages would be impressed with how monuments and architectural history can be built onto a float as a way of unifying those Persians in the US with those back home. As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade. After parade VIPs and dignitaries made their way down the parade route, the fun really began with the first group of traditional dancers and of course the ever playful representation of Haji Firuz.

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The tradition of handing out money to small children was kept alive by a man dressed like old man winter. Persians are very spiritual people and boast about being one of the original declarers of human rights which modern Western society aspire to emulate. Devout followers of the Zoroastrian way of life marched in the parade with their blue robes. I didn’t see the Rumi followers as in previous years. There was more traditional dancers this year and one of the more impressive groups came from the Boston area. The Aftab Dancers really got the crowd worked up. Soon to follow was a large group of Central Asian Vatans with traditional attire and typical musical instruments. There was another group with traditional dancers while another group made their first visit to the parade..the Nomad dancers. They were really good. A parade favorite is the traditional wrestlers, Zoorkhaneh. They had their float with a drummer singing a song the crowd sang along with while the main wrestler gave instructions to his student wrestlers. Insanity it was not but it was still fun to watch. They were followed by a group of traditional dancers dressed in black that got the crowd moving towards Madison Square Park where there was more food and festivities celebrating Persian pride and culture.

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Happy Nawruz….Come Join Us Next Year.

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