Archive | November, 2011

Millions Gobble Up a Thanksgiving Parade in Grand Style

24 Nov

   There’s only one parade in NYC that reaches so many people around the globe and brings so many people together in one common theme – a time of reflecting and being thankful. The grand spectacle of the 85th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was set to get under way starting at 77th St. and Central Park West and zigzag its way through some of the famous sights of NYC until it reached the flagship Macy’s store at Herald Square. With over 3.5 million people crammed along the 2 mile parade, this was sure to be one of the best parades of the year and it certainly was. The parade lineup included over 800 clowns, 15 giant balloons, 44 novelty balloons, 11 marching bands, 27 floats, and a wide variety of celebrities and group performers.  Rachel and I met by Columbus Circle where the event was being telecast to over 50 million viewers worldwide. The mass of humanity lined up for the parade was eagerly anticipating the first group and balloons.  Children of all ages from 2 to 92 saw the Macy’s Great American Marching Band lead the parade and introduce the first of many great balloons. Newcomer Sonic the Hedgehog made his grand appearance to the parade and the crowd just went nuts. The Cooking Channel float of Tom the Turkey had pilgrims riding on top and they set the stage for one of the largest of all the giant balloons this year, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon. Rachel and I decided to make our way to Times Square and were followed by some cops and robbers chasing each other around that got the crowd worked up.



     Dalmatians and fireman announced the Fireman balloon followed by the Dobyns-Bennett Marching band of Tennessee and the ever popular Buzz Lightyear balloon.  Celebrity Cee Lo Green made his way down the parade route while playing his mega hit “Forget You”.  Rachel and I moved further down the parade route by Bryant Park where the crowd was even larger and louder. They chanted loudly for the Pillsbury Doughboy and Freida the Dachshund and even sang theme song for Spongebob Squarepants. A big crowd pleaser was the “Na Koa Ali “i” Hawaii All State Marching Band. The Power Rangers thrilled the crowd with acrobatic moves. I was glad the Pink Power Ranger didn’t high kick me after she ran into me by accident since I would have missed the Kung Fu Panda balloon. The Carmel HS Marching Band broke up the balloon procession followed by Paul Frank’s newcomer to the parade Julius the Monkey. One of the most creative floats carried New York star pitcher Joba Chamberlain. He was carried on a large turtle float playing Native American music representing his heritage. Joba is one of three active Native Americans playing in the Major Leagues.  The elder statesman of the giant balloons came soaring in. Flight Ace Snoopy made his first appearance in 1968 and was followed by the Peanut gallery. While soon after the remarkable Homewood Patriot Band from Alabama played their hearts out. My personal favorite part was when Neil Diamond rolled by on a Mount Rushmore float singing my daughter Carol’s favorite song, “Sweet Caroline”. The patriotic tone kept building up when a huge Uncle Sam balloon appeared followed by some of the loudest cheers for our war veterans.


     The NYC Police band introduced a crowd favorite. Heads were spinning while the Spiderman balloon weaved its way through the skyscrapers of 6th Ave. Another crowd pleaser was the Nation Ford HS Marching Band from South Carolina. They were awesome. A highly anticipated Tim Burton novelty balloon boy “B.” made his first ever appearance onto 6th Ave. The pride of Michigan came next in the Plymouth-Canton Marching Band soon to be followed by the incredible Build-A-Bear float and the Cutest Miss Kitty giant balloon. Colorado’s Legacy Marching Band helped to introduce the Clumsy Smurf giant balloon. A Victorian style float with the popular Straight No Chaser group led the way for a novelty Virginia balloon. One of the longest giant balloons belonged to a crowd favorite and star of the new Muppet movie, Kermit the Frog. Miami’s Marching Band brought the funk with their rendition of  Jimi Hendrix’ “Fire”.  At a distance I could see two huge red “Believe” balloons which could only mean one thing…Santa Claus was in town.  Mr. and Mrs. Claus with their reindeer and all their elf helpers rode past to the cheer of the crowd closing out the best parade in NYC.  Rachel and I met right after Santa rode by and we couldn’t help notice all the smiling faces of the huge crowd.  This parade brings out the child in all of us and returns us to a time of innocence and anticipation of the upcoming holiday season where we couldn’t wait to open our gifts on Christmas Day. But for now, most of the crowd made their way back home to family or friends to give thanks for what was most important of all–Life!




Quick Note:   This year’s journey covering parades in NYC has been an incredible experience beyond my wildest expectations. I met a number of amazing people from the city and all parts of the world in an attempt to capture part of the New York experience.  First I wish to thank my partner in crime, Rachel, who helped make this idea a reality and took some outstanding photos of each of the events.  I wish to thank the Mayor of New York, the Honorable Mayor Michael Bloomberg for all his efforts in making this year’s parade season one of the best. Thanks to the Community Boards throughout the city for coordinating the events in the different boroughs. Thanks to the police for their watchful eye in keeping us safe at all times. Thanks to all the parade organizers whose tireless work provided New Yorker’s and tourists with indelible memories of the parades. Thanks to all the artists and volunteers that gave their free time to come and express their work and help make it possible. Thanks to the over 8 million parade revelers that came out to support their family and friends throughout the year and finally to the reader for taking the time to view our work and be a living part of the freedom and expression that makes this the greatest country in the world.

Albert Terc

A Long Line of Heroes Saluted on Veteran’s Day

14 Nov


American pride was evident everywhere one looked at the opening ceremony of the 92nd annual Veteran’s Day Parade in Madison Square Park. Marching bands were tuning up, highly decorated officers were huddling, veterans from different war eras greeted each like long time friends do. Rachel and I couldn’t help but get caught up in all the excitement especially when celebrity Cuba Gooding Jr. appeared and met with the surviving Tuskegee Airmen and the actors from Off Broadway hit Black Angels Over Tuskegee. The much highly anticipated George Lucas film “Red Tails” starring Mr. Gooding is due for release January 2oth.  The ceremony got under way and as usual US Senator Chuck Schumer got the crowd all riled up especially with some good news of benefit for our veterans. A VIP that commanded the respect and attention of all those present was retired General David H. Petraeus, US Army and  current Director of the CIA.  The Honorable Mayor Bloomberg and Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations made some inspirational remarks of the days’ meaning for our veterans.  Closing the ceremony out was a 21 gun salute for those fallen heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation and a playing of taps.  Rachel and I made our way on to the parade route on 5th Ave. and 26th St. and then the fun really started.


  With over 25,000 marchers including 22 marching bands from all over the country, representatives from all our our Armed Forces, cadets and JROTC from our area, civic and youth groups and of course all the US Veterans Groups promised to make this the largest and best Veterans parade in America.  The mounted police rode up 5th Ave. signaling the start of the parade with this years lead band from Nelson County HS soon followed by the NYPD band and the FDNY Pipes and Drum band.  Right after them rolled up a huge statue named “de Oppresso Liber” translated meaning “Free the Oppressed”. Later that day at a separate ceremony Vice President Joe Biden dedicated the Special Forces statue featuring a soldier on a mountain horse riding  into combat in Afghanistan. Talk about back to the future. Horses were not used in war since World War I. The next part of the parade was my personal favorite. The parade got stalled abit and in front of me was a convertible Cadillac with none other than Seargant Dakota Meyer, the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam Era. If you want to see what a real hero looks like just take a look. He got out of the car and we shook hands. I thanked him for his heroics and for representing what it means to come from the home of the brave. He then went and shook hands with the crowd until the parade started moving again. Earlier in the ceremony at Madison Square Park, Seargant Meyer had the opportunity to greet the oldest receipient of the Medal of Honor, Nicholas Oresko,who at 94 years young, insisted on meeting the young hero. It was a special moment for both of them as it was for those who saw it. Only in NY.


     The parade picked up when the US Army 2nd Battalion 309th Regiment marched up 5th Ave followed by the Seneca East HS Marching band from Attica,Ohio. Getting the crowd worked up were the US Marine Corp. 6th Communication Battalion marching just ahead of energetic Edina HS Marching Band from Minnesota. The first veteran marchers were from the Korean War. In unison with them were Korean military veterans showing off banners of alliance as they stood strong with our vets. Two really dynamic bands from Centaurus HS of Lafayette, Colorado and Maastricht Scoutinband from the Netherlands introduced the World War II veterans while a float showing the iconic symbol of a sailor kissing a woman after victory was declared were followed by a group of children holding pictures of fallen heroes.  A group of veterans that got a loud round of applause were our Vietnam veterans.  Close behind them were enthusiastic East Limestone HS Band from Athens, Alabama.  I’m glad there was a considerable amount of time and distance between when Army marched and when the Navy band appeared.  Those two might have gone at it if they were any closer. Check out an Army/Navy football game live and you’ll know what I mean. There really is no other college football game like it in the country.  Some really great marching bands kept the celebration going including the Mountain Ridge HS from Frostburg, Maryland, Maury HS Marching Band from Norfolk, Virginia and Pickerington HS Band from Ohio.



     Never too late for the party came flying in was the US Air Force 328th Airlift Squadron and the Combat Training Squadron with their field support team soon followed by the Valley Forge  Military Academy and College. A crowd favorite were the Las Vegas Youth Entertainers singing it up for the crowd. Who knows if the next star on American Idol or X Factor were on that float. Yes, they were that good. Another crowd pleaser were the next group of veterans aptly names “The New Greatest Generation“. the Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans. They have today’s technology to help spread the word and organize like no other group has before them. They can mobilize and educate groups around them with quickness and ease much like how they learned in the battlefield. I was taking in their whole march with pride and it was kicked up a notch higher when an African American marcher spotted a white American Korean army vet watching the parade and they both starting singing the army dogface soilder song.  Another time in our nation’s history and that might not have ever happened.  Closing out the proud display of marching bands were the Lebanon HS Band from Pennsylvania, New Amsterdam  HS Band from New York, and Harrisonburg HS Band from Virginia.


     Rachel and I met up towards the end of the parade and took in all the incredible things we witnessed. With all the bickering and anger going on around in DC and other parts of the country, it was a welcome relief to see part of the greatness this nation is. The veterans basked in the glory of knowing this was their day to shine. Much of the crowd was heard over and over saying thank you to these brave men and women who made a huge sacrifice to serve for their country when called upon.  It was also a day to honor all the support groups that aid and assist our veterans when they come back home. At the morning ceremony I saw a Blue Star Mother become emotional remembering a loved one only to be held and consoled by the daughter of a Tuskagee Airman. Later on Rachel saw members of the Operation Mend group get some encouragement from Sopranos star Tony Sirico. Think she overheard him telling a recovering Marine  something along the lines of better get better or else don’t wanna know.  One of the biggest support groups by far was the Wounded Warrior Project, helping soilders in the transition from service to civilian life. Chase Bank was promoting their 100,000 Jobs Mission program that began in March and is helping to promote the idea with other like minded companies. One of the nicest things to see in the parade was the involvement of our youth from the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to the JROTCs  and especially watching the Francis Lewis HS Army JROTC march with precision. If this any indication of what America’s military future looks like, rest assured we are in good hands.


Stars and Stripes Forever

%d bloggers like this: