Over 2 Million Strong Come to 5th Avenue for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

17 Mar
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NYPD Emerald Society Leads the Way

     One of New York City’s oldest traditions continued with a huge crowd of well over two million people lining up the parade route on 5th Avenue for the 258th celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. The honoring of the patron saint of both Ireland and NYC is a way to keep the connection and unity between the people of both nations. People come from all parts of the country for this grand event. This year the parade was held on the 16th for religious observances on the 17th which fell on a Sunday.  The parade has evolved quite a bit since its origin in 1762, where today top High School marching bands across the country come in for the event to showcase their talents. All 32 counties from Ireland send their representatives to march. In this parade, everyone marches. There are no floats or cars. Everyone marches the 2.5 miles up 5th Ave. and stops to greet Archbishop Timothy Dolan in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Revelers call out their counties name like they are checking in at school when their name is called. As it has happened since about 1851, the 69th Regiment, the original “fighting Irish”, lead the parade route with their beloved mascots, a pair of Irish Wolfhounds.

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69th Regiment Officer with Mascot

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Lancers Getting the Parade Started

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Honoring St. Patrick

 

     One of the largest marching bands from Londonderry, New Hampshire was the honorary High School band leading the first group of marchers. They were a great indication of the talent level seen throughout the day. Pipes and drum bands reigned supreme throughout the day with favorites like the NYPD Emerald Society Pipes and Drum band setting the bar way high. The Blue Wall always take care of their own whether here or on the other side. Included as part of the celebration was the family and friends of Detective Steven D. McDonald. It was great to see his family continue to honor his name and message for all to see…Love is the Way.

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Honoring A Special Man 

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These Ladies Always Have Fun at the Parade

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FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums

 

     County representatives from Ireland walked up the parade route displaying large tapestries of St. Patrick or another religious symbol. The crowd got a special treat when prize winning Maghery Fife and Drum Band from County Donegal played a beautiful tune. They got a loud cheer from everyone especially one of my favorite group of revelers, the Half Mad McLaughlins from Brooklyn. They always have a great time and are the life of the parade.

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Maghery Band Academy from Donegal

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We Will Never Forget

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Bagpipers Doing Their Thing

 

     A crowd favorite that brings out national pride to everyone present is the FDNY memorial group 343 which represents the number of fireman lost during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The banner now says 343 and counting for all those first responders that keep dying of cancer and other diseases related to the exposure to the toxins in the air. One thing is for sure…. We Will Never Forget. Another High School Band that stepped up their game was Jefferson Davis from Alabama. For a small group, they packed a big punch. It was the first time in the Big Apple for many of these high school students and what a way to be in the mix of one of the biggest parades in the city.  If this is any indication of the 2019 parades season, it’s going to be an amazing year.  But at least for one day out of the year, we are all Irish.

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Eirinn go Brach!!!

 

Dragons Fire Up the Lunar New Year Parade In Chinatown

18 Feb
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Double Dragons Lead the Way

      The grand finale of the 15 day Lunar New Year celebration was well under way on Mott St. in the heart of Chinatown. A stage was set up on Hester and Mott Sts. to proclaim the importance of the holiday to VIPs, politicians, and dignitaries. US Senator Chuck Schumer , US Representative Nydia Velazquez and NY State Senator John Liu were among those present to help celebrate the occasion.  Parade founder, Steven Tin, of Better Chinatown, did a great job in keeping the pre-parade festivities going. The most anticipated part is when lettuce heads are dangled from long wooden poles and the dancing lions shred the leaves and toss them to the crowd for prosperity.  It was a great tradition to see well and alive in Chinatown.

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Dancing Lions Greeting the Crowd

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Staten Island Lions Leading the Way

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Dragon Leader Weaving His Way

     As usual the mounted police signals the start of the parade with the NYPD marching band shortly behind. For some reason there were more dragons than in previous years and the crowd just loved it. A perennial favorite, Staten Island Lions, brought their dancing lions and got the crowd worked up for a day of fun and tradition. The all-female drum band, Fogo Azul, really had a great time. One of the largest groups, World Journal, is known for their huge double dragons was making their way up the parade route.

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Tilted Dragon Going For A Spin

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Prosperity Is In Your Future

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Buddha Leading the Lion

     Local community groups with  colorful costumes and artistic work made their way up the parade route. Families with children from China and the DeSoto Public school had great costumes and kids enjoying the passing of tradition. It was a successful parade with big crowds and lots of dragons and dancing lions. Marchers ended the parade at Roosevelt Park where more events kept the festivities going. The parade celebrated its 20th year and keeps growing each year. Once the parade was over, I made my way to my to Wo Hop, my favorite restaurant on Mott St.

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Freezing Winds Can’t Stop the Lunar New Year Festival in Flushing

10 Feb
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Double Dragons from World Journal

     The most important of all Chinese festivals occurs over 15 days and coincides with the new moon between January 21 and February 20 each year. The Lunar New Year is celebrated by over 1 billion people worldwide including one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in New York, Flushing, Queens. Chinese astrology designates 2019 as the Year of the Pig. Even with the frigid weather and stiff wind, the parade route along Main St. was filled with revelers looking to rub the dragons head for good luck.

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Dancing Lions Getting Ready to Greet the Crowd

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Koreans in Traditional Attire

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Dancing Lions

 

     As usual the mounted police signals the start of the parade soon followed by the NYPD marching band. Parade dignitaries and VIPs made their way to the reviewing stand near the Queens Public Library on Main St. A diverse group from the Asian community including Koreans, Taiwanese, Malaysians made their way down the parade route.  The lead group this year were the Koreans with their traditional attire and marchers with cymbals and drums. One of the larger groups, World Journal, a Chinese media company, with their famous double dragons are always a fan favorite.

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Falun Dafa Marching Band

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Vessels of Love

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Dragon Bringing Good Luck 

 

     The anchor of the parade, Falun Dafa, is always the largest group with marching bands and great costumes. Falun Dafa has been banned from China for it’s spiritual beliefs and willingness to seek the truth through reporting. A respected media group, Epoch Times, always has a large representation at the parade. Their aim is to report what China seeks to suppress. If I were writing about this event in China, it would have to be edited by the Central Government and may never be published. Our freedom should never be taken for granted.  Once the parade is over, a firecracker festival takes place near an upscale mall, Queens Crossing. One of the best things about neighborhood parades is all the excellent dining choices available. A short walk to Prince St. is must do whenever you are in the area. Happy New Year!!

 

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Happy Year of the Pig!!!

Millions Brave Freezing Temps to Give Thanks at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

24 Nov
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Let’s Get This Party Started

     Arctic temperatures couldn’t stop the millions of fans from lining up the parade route from 77th St. and Central Park West all the way down to 34th St. in front of the Macy’s Herald Square flagship store. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the biggest parade in the city and always enjoyed by kids from 5 to 95. It was the coldest Thanksgiving in 100 years but that didn’t matter. Everyone was there to have a great time and be part of a New York tradition since 1924. With a large display of giant balloons, celebrities, and clowns, the grand spectacle is the premiere showcase that only Macy’s can pull off.

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Paw Patrol On Duty

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Dragon In Training

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James Madison University MB Bringing It

     The parade features some of the top tier marching bands in country. This year the prestigious lead band came from Ohio State University. The frigid temperature had them marching double time just to keep warm. It seems as though this year had more celebrities than in previous years. Headliners included Diana Ross, John Legend, Martina McBride and a whole host of other performers. The parade also boasts the largest collection of clowns assembled for one event…other than a clown convention.

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John Legend Waving to the Crowd

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Goku Ready to Defend

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What A Fun Celebration

     Some of the marching bands putting on a great show were the James Madison University Marching Band from Virginia. They were great and had a loud following from the crowd. Oregon sent some of their best in Grants Pass High School marching Band and Color Guard. The giant balloon of Charlie Brown made it’s way down the parade route soon followed by the Northstars from Syracuse NY.  There was a drum showdown between two excellent bands. It’s tough to decide which had the better drum section. Check out Riverside High School from California marching band and then the thunderous Homewood Patriot High School Marching Band from Alabama. They were both well instructed and on point for the parade.

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NYC Landmarks Got In on the Action

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Frosty as Frozen Olaf

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That Nasty Grinch Up To No Good

 

     A few new balloons made their grand entrance to the parade. Goku, from Dragonball Z fame floated in over 56 feet tall and 70 feet long. All kids were watching in amazement at the giant balloon. The Netflix film,  The Christmas Chronicles,  had characters Fleck, Jojo, Bjorn and Hugg airing it out in novelty balloons. They were fun. Hope to see them next year. Everyone’s favorite Mr. Grinch and Spongebob Squarepants always get the loudest applause. The tail end of the parade is dedicated to the Christmas season with lots of elves and Christmas themed floats gathering anticipation for the last float carrying Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus waving to the crowd. It’s always a special part of the parade to watch kids of all ages smiling and waving to Santa Claus.

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     This years NYC parade line up was amazing. Tens of millions of revelers attended this years parades in the greatest city ever created. In a city with such a diverse population, the fact that all these parades can go on without problems or protests shows just how strong a city we have. Thanks to the parade organizers and volunteers that dedicated their time to produce events that keep the star shining on top of this beaming metropolis. Thanks to the NYPD for keeping everyone safe and FDNY for responding quickly to any emergencies, and Sanitation for cleaning up. Thanks to all the marching bands for the endless rehearsals and making the parades festive. And thanks to you the reader that helps keep this blog going. Thank you. It’s been a blast.

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                   Have a great holiday season and a safe and Happy New Year!!

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America Honors Its Heroes On Centennial Mark of End of WW1

12 Nov

 

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Raise Our Flags Up High

     The red carpet was rolled out for the thousands of Veterans being honored in the annual Veterans Day Parade up 5th Ave. The event coincides with Armistice Day which remembers the end of Word War 1 and is a National Holiday for many of our Allies. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany to cease any further hostilities. Many Veterans Day events go on throughout the country but the NYC Veterans Day Parade is the largest in the country. And New York knows how to throw a celebration. Before the parade kicks off, festivities are held in Madison Square Park and at 11:11 a 21 gun salute is made in honor of all those servicemen and women that made the ultimate sacrifice.  The parade kicked off with lots of anticipation as floats and marchers were eager for the celebration to get started and what a celebration it was.

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Honorary Lead Band

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World War 1 Soldiers On a Mission

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French Soldiers Ready For Action

     Some great marching bands from all over the country were invited to participate in the parade. The honorary lead band came in from Valley Forge with some snazzy uniforms. Soldiers dressed in WW1 uniforms marched up the parade route soon followed by their French counterparts. They got the crowd worked up for a great parade.   Leading the Armed Forces were the West Point Cadets with a group honoring the memory of the 77th Sustainment Brigade which drafted men mostly from New York City to fight in WW1 in France. One of the most anticipated groups followed the Army section of the parade. Floats carrying WW2 vets arrived with all revelers on the parade route stopping to applaud the remaining members of The Greatest Generation. It was great to see people bring in photos of loved ones to be a part of the event.

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World War 2 Vet Enjoying the Attention

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Grateful Revelers

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Army Band Ready to Play

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West Point Cadets Have the Best Uniforms

 

     Kicking off he many great marching bands from across the country were the Seaman High School Marching Band from Topeka, Kansas. They were pretty good. They got things warmed up for the Marine Corp and their group. They have no bands. It’s just business with the Marines. They made their way through for the Vietnam vets. They got lots of love from the crowd with many yelling out Welcome Home. A reception they did not get at the end of the Vietnam War. Another marching band from Grayslake Illinois made quite an impression. The Korean Vets group has always been inclusive of many of the Koreans that fought in the first of the Cold Wars.

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Marine Corp Always the First in Action 

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Vietnam Vets Enjoying the Moment

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Golden Lions Brings It

 

     Navy made their way up the parade route with lots of fanfare and lots of love from the crowd.  Heard a few folks yell out Beat Army in anticipation of the Rivalry football game coming up later on this month. But for today, Army and Navy got along.  Another marching band from Maryville Missouri did pretty good. Even though the Gahanna Lincoln Golden Lions from Ohio kicked it up a notch better. Air Force arrived right on schedule and was well received by the crowd. One of the best bands of the day came in from Towson University in Maryland. They stole the show. The more tech savvy vets arrived with the Iraq and Afghanistan War group. As always they were loud and proud.

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Korean Vet Getting Ready

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Navy Bearing Flags 

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The Smartest Vets

     Plenty of support groups were there to raise awareness of their services. Most people know of the Wounded Warrior Project and Operation Mend but service dogs were highlighted and several corporate sponsors offering employment opportunities to Veterans.   Closing out the parade were several groups of Vets bearing signs for peace not war and requests for more money for Veterans not Nukes. These are the groups that capture the spirit of the day. Peace on Armistice Day. Our military has defended our freedom from tyranny, monarchs, fascists, terrorists and is the best fighting force the world has ever scene. It is the strength of the Armed Forces that helps keep the peace all throughout the planet. And we got there is thanks to all the service men and woman that sacrificed their time and more for love of country. Thank you Vets for defending our Freedom and our beloved nation.

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Carrying Old Glory With Pride and Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reveling Robots Rule the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade

2 Nov
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Terminator Robot Gets Things Started

     One of the most anticipated annual parades kicks off at 7PM each Halloween on 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village, NYC. New Yorkers are among the most creative in the country and the Halloween parade is the premiere display of that ingenuity. Not only is the parade one of the largest night parades, it is the biggest Halloween party on the planet. The hundreds of thousands of revelers that came out on a warm night sure got an eyeful of some of the craziest and scariest costumes. I met marchers that put on a costume over 25 years ago and bring their kids to the parade. That’s what’s great about this parade….all you need is a costume and you can march with the rest of the crowd. This year’s theme was I Am a Robot and there were plenty of robot themed costumes displayed.

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Robots Dancing the Night Away

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Lord of What the Hell!!

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Mistress and her Diabolic Robotic Bodyguards

     Parade director, Jeanne Fleming, always does an amazing job organizing the vast number of creatives assembling some the hundreds of puppets on display that turn 6th Avenue from the hustle and bustle of a fast city into a magical mystical wonderland for a few hours. As usual, the white angels start the parade with blessings and spreading the pixie dust for good vibes. Parade organizers march up with the hundreds of puppets and volunteers at the start of  the parade to get the crowd ready for a wild Halloween night.  Brass bands were really having a fun time with the crowd. The 3 Million Majority Marching Band had some good energy. A creative float that fit the night’s theme was the Welcome to Metropolis group. They were a lot of fun.

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Day Of the Dead  

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Triple Face Scare

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Robot on a Tinder Date

     A few perennial favorites that keep growing are the SambaNY dancers and drum band. They really got into it. And of course everyone’s favorite Michael Jackson Thriller group never disappoint with some great choreography and costumes. The Maracatu NY group always makes some good noise with their drumming. The Ghostbusters group was seen chasing some scared ghosts around. A newbie from Staten Island that really rocked out was the Vampire Rock Opera. They had a mean bass line and really got the crowd worked up.

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     Thousands of marchers in costumes help make this annual NY ritual one of the best parades in the city and a must see if you’ve never been. You will want to keep coming back for more.   Scare Ya Next Year.

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Halloween Parade Director Jeanne Fleming

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Who Pissed Off Freddie Off?

 

Hispanic Heritage Month Ends With A Grand Finale Parade on 5th Avenue

15 Oct
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Start of a Grand Parade

     A month long celebration of National Hispanic Heritage finished with one of the largest parades of its kind in the world. Each Spanish speaking country in the Western Hemisphere and Mother Country, Spain, sent representatives  to display costumes,  dance, folkloric tradition and great pride to the parade route on 5th Avenue. Revelers brought out their flags to display on the railings from 44th up to 66th streets.

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Traditional Spaniard Dancers

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Flamenco Style Dancers

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Tango Dancers Heating Things Up

     Right around noon, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade. This year, the honorary lead band was a Brooklyn-based Panamanian Bugle and Drums Corp blaring their trumpets and beating the drum while a large group behind them displayed each participating nations flag.  They handled the prestigious honor with style and set the tone for what would be an amazing day of cultural pride.

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Spanish Artist Leyton Showing His Work

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Happy Venezuelan

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Bolivians Taking Over

 

     Parade VIPs and dignitaries march up the parade route to the reviewing stands and stage for the televised portion of the parade on 64th street. There are judges present to award a particular group for best cultural representation. As usual, Spain leads the way with artists, traditional attire and music to get the crowd worked up. Participating countries proceed in alphabetical order. Argentina got things under way with a group of amazing tango dancers.

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San Simon Caporales Kicking It in High Gear

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Chilenos Handkerchief Dance

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Birds of a Feather…

 

     Each year, one of the largest groups to participate are the Bolivians. Their diverse culture has Tincus, Morenales, and the high energy San Simon Caporales in their sparkling costumes. They have hundreds of marchers with some of the most colorful costumes of the parade. They were soon followed by the cowboy clad group from Chile. Another large group with colorful costumes comes from Colombia. They had a group dressed as birds as Colombia is known as the #1 country for bird watching. A group dancing cumbia, a traditional dance, showed off their moves.

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Costa Ricans Having Fun

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Cafe Tarrazu Group Makes Some Noise

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Dominican Lechones Taking Selfies

 

     Costa Rica was a surprise hit with a snazzy marching band called Banda Municipal Cafe Tarrazu. The band came up from Costa Rica just for the event and they played very well. The Dominican Republic had some playful diablos called Lechones. I caught a pair taking a selfie. Ecuador sent their traditional dancers.  El Salvador had two marching bands from Boston to compete. The first one, Banda Sombrero Azul got things warmed up for a perennial favorite, Banda El Carbonero.  Guatemala and Honduras were well represented.

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Puerto Rico Is Rising Again

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Aztec Nation Wants to be Heard

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Folkloric Mexican Danza de Los Tecuanes

     Mexico had a nice variety of cultural representation with mariachi singers, Aztec dancers, and a group doing  La Danza de Los Tecuanes, an agricultural folkloric tradition of chasing away the jaguar.  Mixed in the large Mexican group were representatives from Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. Another group getting larger each year comes from Paraguay. One of the most impressive groups comes from Panama. The females wear the traditional polleras and the men wear the guayaberas. Panama had two bands that stole the show. The military style Instituto America from Panama City, Panama was well choreographed. They were followed by the Centro Cultural China Panamena which displayed an Asian influence.

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Stunning Panamanian Float

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Military Band From Panama

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Uruguayan Drummers Playing Candombe Music

     Peru had a smaller group than in previous years. Not sure what happened this year. Uruguay took to the streets again with their bright colored drummers playing Candombe, an African influenced dance with scantily clad dancers getting everyone worked up. Venezuela closed out the parade with colorful costumes.

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Paraguayan Marchers

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Happy Panamanians

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Venezuelans Marching with Pride

 

     No other parade in the city other than the Dance parade brings as many various cultures together. Hispanics share the same language but have a wide variety of traditions, cultural influences and their own story to tell. In this one parade, it’s all on display for the city and all Hispanics to be proud of.

 

 

 

Que Viva La Hispanidad…..

 

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