German Bands and Beer Make For Great Fun at the Steuben

19 Sep
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Traditional Costumes of Germany

Mid-September is when people of German descent in the Tri-State area gather together and celebrate the birthday of a Revolutionary War hero, Baron von Steuben. In it’s 59th year, the Steuben Parade is also a time to display unity and friendship with native Germans and their German-American counterparts. This year’s Grand Marshall, ice skating champion, Katarina Witt made her way up the parade route on 5th Ave. to the reviewing stand on 78th St.  She was announced by an annual favorite, the German Air Force Band. One of the best displays of unity was the Steuben Association of the NYFD hosting their German Firemen counterparts. They marched right behind each other as brother and sisters in arms. Both dedicated to protecting and serving others in harms way. I did get a kick out of the police car used by Germans …made a Smart car look like a Suburban. The first of many beer floats made its way up the parade route as there was a huge tent in Central Park that had a big Oktoberfest celebration that coincided with the big one going on in Munich the same day. Many dancers and marchers dressed in traditional German attire were happy to stop by for a quick photo op.

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Carnaval Costumers

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The Little Car That Could….

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German and American Unity

One of the best things about the Steuben is we get treated to hear German bands play their marching songs or even a few American favorites. Stadtkapelle Offenburg played a Jersey Boys favorite tune.  They were soon followed by a newer group that played well. Zierte Jonge Niederzier got the crowd excited for what would be the scene stealer with the marching band clad in all white from Fanfarenzug Potsdam. They really did a fantastic job and got the crowd worked up. Keep in mind the Steuben is by far one of the most polite parades in NY. Yes there will be a hoot and a holler once in a while but for the most part people just applaud and wave…yawn. The beer floats definitely pick things up whenever there is a lull in the flow. There were easily a dozen beer floats and every one of those was having a good time. One of the best floats was in honor of the German contribution to film making. Annual crowd favorites continue to be the Volkswagon cars from Long Island, the German dobermans, and the Carnaval costumers. Americans from German descent came from New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania to share in the friendship and unity and of course…beer.

Feathers Flying From Festive West Indian Parade

6 Sep

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Every year on Labor Day, Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn turns into one of the largest parties of West Indian nations with over a million revelers coming out for good food, good music and lots of masqueraders. Once you step onto Eastern Parkway around 11am, the aroma of jerk chicken, fried fish, and curried goat entice your senses into having a taste of some delicious food. I stopped by Trini Marv’s kiosk for some roti. They’ve been there for 25 years strong and as usual I was not disappointed.  The start of the parade began with the procession of flags from all the West Indies nations. Then the first of many politicians arrived with Honorary Grand Marshall NY State Gov. Andrew Cuomo leading the way. After a half hour delay, Mayor DeBlasio arrived. No surprises there. A pleasant surprise was when the NYPD band float got into the day long party. Their steel drum section was on point. The fun kept on going with colorful costumes, marching bands and dancers coming from afar as Jamaica and French Guyana. They got the crowd worked up for what would be arriving next….the monster trucks and masqueraders.

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No other parade in NYC has monster trucks with monster speakers blaring favorite songs of the Caribbean community.  You can follow your favorite truck from Utica Ave. for 4 miles to Washington Ave. and hop on a train ride back to Utica Ave. and start it all over again. The Haitian truck had one of the largest followings of the 8 hour long parade. The Freaks Mas group had some great costumes and fine masqueraders. The Last Tribe Group had an amazing display of costumes. A real unique group was the Enchanted Garden with beautiful butterflies, parrots, and peacocks. One of the largest groups is the crowd favorite Ramajay Mas with their Travel The World representation with groups from exotic locals all over the world. All groups made their way to the judges panel over on Washington Ave. for a presentation of their groups theme and costume. This parade one of NYC’s best parades and should be on your bucket list no matter what your country of origin is. If you like to have fun, this is the parade to go to.

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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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