Archive | November, 2012

Plenty To Be Thankful For This Year…

24 Nov

Many New Yorkers were fortunate to begin their recovery from the worst storm in over 100 years. Some lost nearly everything while most were inconvenienced  but somehow or another everyone was affected by Sandy. The devastation and destruction that followed helped to bring out the best in New Yorkers and bring people together when it mattered most and that’s what makes me proud to be from New York. So in this year’s version of the 86th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, I definitely heard the crowd scream louder than years before especially from the section of over 5,000 storm survivors affected the most.

Being the first marching band to kick off the parade is quite an honor and this years band was the top band from North Carolina, The Blue and Gold marching Machine from North Carolina A&T State University. They were amazing to watch as they all marched in precise steps without missing a beat. Right behind them was a new balloon entry as Miss Kitty came flying in on her new snazzy airplane. The kids just loved it. And of course the Charlie Brown balloon chasing the football is always a crowd favorite. It was only fitting this year that the mounted police  trotted in before the cops and robbers clowns and the policeman novelty balloon. Another marching band highlight was the entry from Ohio; the Kenton Ridge HS marching band. They were very good and made the crowd get loud with their moves. Kung Fu Panda was behind them to keep them in line…just in case.

Every year a band is invited from outside the US and this year’s honored guests came from Veracruz,Mexico. They brought their own style into the mix. The jungle themed clowns only meant that none other Julius was the next balloon to make their way down the parade route. The patriotic theme was clearly visible when soldier and Revolutionary clowns made their way in before Miss Teen USA came in waving to the crowd. The Uncle Sam balloon had to make a quick departure on 42nd St. as it was quickly deflating. Never fear though as right behind was the crowd favorite Spiderman balloon. A nice treat for the crowd was the Air Force Marching Band.

Clowns dressed up as firefighters were just in front of the fireman novelty balloon while the ZhuZhu pets float drew a big response from the kids. They were getting things warmed up for a big crowd favorite…Spongebob Squarepants and his flock of pirates led by the menacing pirate queen, Whoopi Goldberg. Another special treat was the Saratoga HS Marching Band from California leading the way in for a new balloon entry, Papa Smurf. There must have been a thousand Spirit of America dancers marching their way down to Herald Square to perform for the over 50 million people watching worldwide. Brian Donnelly’s  Companion balloon came in for the quick nap until the NYPD Marching Band woke up the sleepy crowd and then Flo Rida got the crowd cheering again. The Diary of Wimpy Kid balloon was a crowd favorite but a surprising entry were the strutting businessmen.  They seemed a little out of place but did put on a good show.  The Great American Band got everybody going with more holiday music while Sailor Mickey got lots of cheers from the kids.

Tragedy did not escape the parade this year as an entertaining clown, Robert Blasetti from Yonkers, suffered a cardiac arrest while on the parade route. He was there with his wife Irene.  He was entertaining some kids in the crowd when I snapped his picture minutes before he fell and was treated by EMS and rushed to a local hospital. In that blink of an eyelash of time, I could tell he liked to make people laugh and feel good. He will certainly be missed by those who loved and knew him.

In his second appearance in the grand parade was Sonic the Hedgehog followed by the Wyoming All Star Marching Band. Serving as inspiration of what can be achieved with hard work and perseverance were the US Woman’s Gymnastics Team “The Fierce Five”.  The first of many elves and Santa’s helpers made their way down the parade route getting the crowd ready for the Big Guy himself. Mixed in there was a really incredible sounding band from Oak Ridge HS Marching Band  in Texas.  The last of the new floats arrived as the Elf on a Shelf came in with plenty of candy cane  dressed stilt walkers. Everyone’s favorite Buzz Lightyear balloon got the crowd screaming to “Infinity and Beyond”, while the cute Virginia novelty balloon holding a letter addressed to the North Pole let everyone know that the big moment was soon approaching. When the Holiday Elves novelty balloons appeared everyone knew Santa Claus was right behind them and the crowd just went nuts with cheer as they knew the holiday season was right upon us.

The parade season for 2012 came to a close with the best parade of them all. To see children from 3 to 93 watch in amazement at all the large balloons, clowns, marching bands and celebrities was in itself a thrill and a reminder of the spirit of the holiday season and of mankind.  As the over 3 million parade viewers started their journey home or another destination to celebrate Thanksgiving, I couldn’t help but think of all the parades I had seen this year.  Thank you Rachel Cauvin for taking some great pictures and helping to capture a fun part of New York for  the world to see. Thank you parade organizers and sponsors for helping to preserve our freedom, independence, and creative spirit. Thank you marchers and band members for all your hours of practice and preparation in making the parades turn out to be fun to watch. Thank you for reading the articles and watching the videos and helping to be part this blogs goal …to celebrate life.

 

Thank you,

Albert Terc

Sandy Can’t Stop the Greatest Generation

14 Nov

     

     New Yorkers have always had a tough as nails reputation. That take no bull attitude has always set us apart from any other great city in this nation. New Yorkers have been through plenty of adversity throughout the years and the storm of the century just added to the list. Yes, many Staten Islanders are suffering and many that live by the coastal sections lost everything. Sandy was the Big One people had been talking all about for years and she hit us hard. But catastrophic events like this help bring people together not tear them apart.  Nearly two weeks after Sandy wrecked havoc in New York and New Jersey, people were ready to cheer about something as the 93rd edition of the largest Veteran’s Day Parade in the country was set to kick off at the start of the parade route on 23rd St. and 5th Ave. This year’s Grand Marshall was no other than the  Honorable former Mayor Ed Koch.   Who else can have a bridge named after him while he’s still alive. Mayor Koch is about as New York as you can get. After the Honorable current Mayor Bloomberg made his way up the parade route to the cheers of the crowd, the fun really started for all those waiting on a warm Sunday afternoon on 5th Ave.

   

   

      This year, parade organizers decided to honor the Navajo Code Talkers who were so instrumental in WWII.  The Navajo Code Talkers were young Navajo men who transmitted secret communications on the battlefields of WWll. “At a time when America’s best known cryptographers were falling short, these modest sheepherders and farmers were able to fashion the most ingenious and successful codes in military history. They drew upon their proud warrior tradition to brave the dense jungles of Guadalcanal and the exposed beachheads of Iwo Jima,” according to their website. Another group that was honored were the service dogs of many breeds all throughout the many wars this country has been involved in.   The most recent military dog to be honored will be Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, who parachuted with the Navy SEAL team into the Bin Laden compound in Pakistan where he alerted his companions to the movements of people around the compound. His work aided in the killing of the notorious terrorist.

     

     The first of the Armed Forces to march their way up the parade route was the Army Battalion soon followed by the Marine Corps. Good thing they were a good distance apart; they never have anything good to say about each other. Veteran’s Day Parade draws some of the better bands in the country to show off their skills and the Prospect Marching Knights from Mount Prospect, Illinois got the crowd really worked up. One of largest participants with over 700 marchers were the Wounded Warrior Project carrying the largest American flag of the parade. Their float had a simple motto: Mission: to honor and empower wounded warriors. Then the part that everyone waited for…a chance to thank and praise the Veterans. The first group was part of the Greatest Generation from World War II. School aged children carried large pictures of veterans in honor of the Spirit of ’45. A float carried some of the remaining WWII vets as they waved to the applauding crowd. The next group of vets came from the Korean War and they were accompanied by Korean veterans that served. Even a group of Korean marchers and dancers helped keep the celebration moving in high gear. In between groups of vets came more Armed Forces as the Navy and Air Force marched without so much as a grin but the crowd just loved it. The next group of vets were from the Vietnam War. The crowd gave them the applause and honor they didn’t get when they returned from half way around the globe back in the 70s when Nixon ended the war. The show stealer this year surprisingly had to be the  Coast Guard. Their marching band and uniforms were the envy of the parade.  They were warming things up for the last group of vets known as the Next Greatest Generation from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and yes they were by far the loudest.  The great work of Operation Mend was on display for all to see. This group helps mend soldiers burned in the line of duty. The crowd was treated to a trio of  lively USO singers. Every year a different band is requested to play at the parade by Mayor Bloomberg and this years group came in from Portsmouth in the UK.  They were really good.

     

     This year, the veterans asked people to bring coats and other clothing to be donated to the people most affected by the devastating storm Sandy. Plenty of people I know were inconvenienced with the loss of power or having to wait long hours to get gasoline. But when you measure that against what some of these men and women went through in the battlefields in Europe, or in Korea or Vietnam or in the deserts of Iraq or Afghanistan, it really pales in comparison. These men and women were along way from home never knowing if they would ever come back; many miles away to protect our freedom from the forces that wish to destroy it. Long live the red, white and blue.

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