A Sea of Blue and White on 5th Ave.

8 Jun

There was much excitement and anticipation as the 47th annual Celebrate Israel Parade was set to start near 57th St. and 5th Ave. Balloons, flags, signs and banners were everywhere in sight. Many stilt walkers and musicians were practicing for their part in the march. This year’s parade theme – In Tune with Israel – was evident all throughout the participants in either their playing musical instruments or a drawing of an instrument on their banner. Rachel was keen on taking some great shots of the activity as she had to rush off to attend the Philippine Day Parade further downtown on Madison Ave. so I made way to 59th St. and passed right by the mounted police, a sign the parade was about to start.  The Girls Scouts of Highland Park, NJ kicked off the parade with a large display of American and Israeli flags proudly waved by the young scouts and their parents. The NYC Marching band played an upbeat marching song soon followed by the Honorable Mayor Bloomberg and Grand Marshall Joseph Sitt. Nearby where I was recording the event stood NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Many VIPs and organizational heads stopped by to shake his hand and have a photo-op. NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo couldn’t even pass up that chance.


     After the dignitaries passed by, the fun really started. Nearly every Temple, School and Yeshiva from the Tri-State region sent their students and teachers to represent in the spirited event that is the largest of its kind celebrating the state of Israel since its birth in 1948. Over 30,000 marchers and hundreds of thousands parade viewers alike were enjoying the great weather and exuberance of the festivities. At the heart of many of these organizations is the devotion to God, religion, family, tradition, peace, and music. It was clearly seen in many of the marchers but especially amongst the younger marchers especially from the Stella K Abraham High School for Girls as they waved their blue and white pompoms that really got the crowd worked up and excited to be at the event. Not to be outdone was one of the largest participants of the parade, the Yeshiva of Flatbush with their snazzy burgundy t-shirts and large banner in praise of God with the horn and the harp. Greeted with much fanfare were the official delegation from the state of Israel waving hundreds of blue and white balloons and flags.  There were many floats gliding up 5th Ave. playing all kinds of music from traditional Israeli music to SoulFarm that played cool jazz to the delight of viewers young and old alike.


     A parade just isn’t a parade without a marching band and this one had 16 marching bands each one outperforming the other with their precision marching, blaring brass and booming drums. Newcomer Excelsior Drum and Bugle Corp. from Troy, NY were exceptional as I marched by their side until the reviewing stand near 69th St and where the event was broadcast locally and internationally. That’s when I couldn’t help catch the sheer joyful expression coming from Betty and Jack with her parents Sally and Jack, parade veterans from Rockland County.  They love coming to the parade and were anxious to see their child march by from Yeshivat Noam of Paramus, NJ. It brought home what I had been a witness to the entire day. The passing of tradition from one generation to the next so they will never forget the suffering endured by so many before them and to celebrate the gift of life.  As I made my way down towards the start of the parade again, another newcomer marching band was kicking it in high gear. The Shabazz High School Marching Band from Newark, NJ were high-stepping their way up 5th Ave. It seemed as though the crowd doubled in size since I was there just an hour earlier.  A sure sign the Israeli spirit is alive and well and endures no matter what adversity presents itself. Am Israel Chai- The Jewish people live.

Shalom–Until next year

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