Archive | November, 2013

Winds Let Up At the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

30 Nov
Papa Smurf at the Parade

Papa Smurf Rocks the Parade

The biggest worry on the ice-cold Thanksgiving morning was if the winds would die down enough for the big balloons to fly. A trademark of the parade and a fan favorite of every kid from 2 to 92, the larger balloons were flown a little lower to the ground just in case the wind gusts created any serious problems. For the first time in its 87 year history, opening the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade were a group of robots created by students from Texas. I know plenty of kids wishing to spend an hour with the robot with the basketballs to see who has a better corner jump shot.   Once the giant float with the pilgrims riding on top a huge turkey passed by, everyone knew the parade was under way. The largest collegiate marching band in the country, James Madison University Marching Band from Harrisonburg, Virginia kicked things off. The first of the many giant balloons made its appearance with newcomer Woodstock riding on top of a flying Snoopy giving him directions so they don’t bump into any tall buildings. Right on Snoopy’s tail was the tall and majestic Sonic balloon. The Miss Kitty balloon flew with minor turbulence but did manage to navigate her way safely.  A tropical group full of parrots and giraffes lead the way for the monkey float with Julius. Fitness guru, Richard Simmons, was a hit for the older crowd that remembered his light-hearted antics from the 80s and 90s. He hasn’t changed one bit. The Union HS Marching Band from Tulsa, OK were a big hit among the marching bands. A more serious looking band followed them as the US Marine Corp Band kicked it up a notch.

Snoopy carries Woodstock for a ride

Snoopy carries Woodstock for a ride

Sonic racing towards the finish line

Sonic racing towards the finish line

Julius puts on a Show

Julius puts on a Show

A newcomer and quite appropriate giant balloon flew by with kids singing the cartoon favorite’s theme song. Spongebob Squarepants flew on by while holding on to his red Santa hat in case it flew off with a wind gust. Following the crowd favorite was a fun and energetic  marching band from Tarpon Springs. They were amazing and had to march a little faster as one of the biggest giant balloons was gaining on them. The huge black dragon from the blockbuster hit “How To Train Your Dragon” made its first appearance at this parade. Quite impressive. A fun-dressed marching band from Ooltewah Tennessee led the way for a new balloon representing the Wizard of Oz movie. The coolest part of that group was a basket carrying the Grand Wizard of Oz underneath the giant balloon…much like the scene in the film. Crowd favorite Spiderman made his way down the parade route on 6th Ave, however his left arm was a little limp as it got punctured by a tree at the start of the parade by Central Park West.

Spongebob saving his hat

Spongebob saving his hat

Newcomer Dragon puts a scare to the crowd

Newcomer Dragon puts a scare to the crowd

Fun Band from Tennessee

Fun Band from Tennessee

The big Apple float carried some sports legends including former NFL players Amani Toomer,  Hines Ward, Bart Oates, and Joe Namath who personally guaranteed everyone would have fun at the parade. There are hundreds of clowns at this parade and one of the better ones are the cops and robbers clowns. They always get the crowd worked up with their antics. The best of the best marching bands from UMass blew the crowd away with their tight march and loud music. Fireman clowns and cute dalmatians arrived just ahead of the fireman giant balloon. Younger kids really cheered on the Despicable Me float with the movie characters working the crowd. Plenty of cupcake and cookie clowns walked on by just ahead of the huge Doughboy balloon. The Toro Marching Band from Arizona was impressive but had to march faster because new entry balloon Finn and Jake were a bit out of control but no need to fear. Right behind them was the Buzz Lightyear giant balloon to save the day from any danger. The parade was winding down as there were many elves looking to help any one they could.  Giant balloon Virginia carrying a letter with a wish list for Santa let everyone know the big moment was soon at hand. But first another character with long white hair had to make his appearance. None other than Papa Smurf floated on by to the delight of the crowd. That high energy worked its way into the last of the marching bands in the Great American Band.  Then the moment everyone was waiting for arrived. The huge float with reindeer on top with Santa and Mrs. Claus waving to crowd. Looking at the wonder in the eyes of the children around me was heartwarming and brings out the kid in everyone.

UMass Band blew away the crowd

UMass Band blew away the crowd

Dalmatian howling it up

Dalmatian howling it up

Doughboy cooking up some fun

Doughboy cooking up some fun

Jake and Finn chased by Buzz Lightyear

Jake and Finn chased by Buzz Lightyear

This parade closes out what was an amazing parade year. From the start of the year with the Chinese Lunar Year to St. Patrick’s to the Mermaid to the Puerto Rican to Labor Day to Halloween to Veterans Day it was one of the best parade years I have witnessed. Thanks to the NYPD for keeping the millions of people watching the parades safe. Thanks to the parade organizers and marchers for making this a memorable year for so many people. And thanks to you the reader for keeping this labor of love going strong. See you next year.

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Let the good times come

Let the good times come

Thousands of Vets Thanked at America’s Parade

12 Nov
West Point Cadets Honor Our Veterans

West Point Cadets Honor Our Veterans

One of the best things about blogging on NYC parades is being a witness to history and no other parade than the Veterans Day parade shows how America has changed and shaped the world we know today. This is one of my favorite parades to attend. In no other parade will Medal of Honor recipients gather to be honored and thanked for their bravery and heroics during the most difficult of circumstances. There are many Veterans Day parades throughout the country but the one in NYC is the largest. All the armed forces send their reps to march and remind everyone the freedom we all share in this country is not free and these men and women sacrificed their time and energy in the name of country. All sent far away from home to carry out a mission to help preserve freedom here and abroad. Some soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice while the ones that survived are honored on the 11th day of the 11th month keeping the tradition from the end of First World War.

Medal of Honor Recipient Sgt. Leroy Petry

Medal of Honor Recipient Sgt. Leroy Petry

WTC Flag Volunteers

WTC Flag Volunteers

Army Invades the Parade

Army Invades the Parade

While some pundits claim the 20th century was Americas century and this nation is not what once was, I would like to remind you that when a great tragedy strikes like the massive typhoon Yolanda that devastated parts of the Philippines recently, the first nation called upon to assist was the US and its naval strength. Not China, not India, not England, not Russia…the USA baby. The strength of our armed forces defeated fascism, tyranny, oppression and forces determined to suppress the freedom we enjoy today. That same freedom that so many people around the world seek in their own lives and in their own countries. It is with great pride we salute and thank our vets and all their supporters throughout the years in this joyous parade. As usual, there is a ceremony in Madison Square Park where VIPS,  Grand Marshalls, city politicos and of course many veterans assemble just before the parade kicks off from 23rd St.and 5th Ave. up to 47th St. Taps were played and the flag lowered half staff in honor of those fallen heroes. The silence was broken by a 21 gun salute. Walking up to the front of the parade, the anticipation was high and the energy even higher. Those army guys just can’t keep quiet.

Andrew Sisters cover band

Andrew Sisters cover band

Army Recruiters looking for New Recruits

Army Recruiters looking for New Recruits

Brooklyn Firefighters Carrying US Flags

Brooklyn Firefighters Carrying US Flags

The mounted police signaled the start of the parade and were soon followed by local politicians and parade dignitaries. The first of national symbols made it’s way up the parade route in this nationally televised event. At least two dozen proud people carried the flag found in the rubble at the World Trade Center after the attacks on 9/11.  The crowd was treated to a newer rendition of the famous Andrew Sisters “Bugle Boy“, made popular during World War II. Keeping up with the tradition, the cadets from West Point made their appearance with their sharp uniforms soon followed by the new recruits of the armed forces who took their oath by the reviewing stand in front of the landmark New York Public Library. The first of many marching bands came up from Hinsdale, Illinois. They were pretty good.

Medal of Honor Float

Medal of Honor Float

Marine Corp. Marching up 5th Ave.

Marine Corp. Marching up 5th Ave.

Louisburg Kansas Marching Band

Louisburg Kansas Marching Band

A loud and crowd favorite were the members of the Wounded Warrior Project celebrating their 10 years of service for veterans. The special treat rolled up with the float carrying four Medal of Honor recipients. The latest honoree being Leroy Petry was having the most fun with the crowd. NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo led the way for the Marine Corp. Then an energetic marching band from Louisburg, Kansas kept the crowd geared up for more action as the first group of veterans made their way up the parade route.  The Vietnam War vets got a large ovation and thanks from the crowd. It was great to see vets marching up 5th Ave. spotting someone with a Vietnam War vet cap on and just reaching over the iron barricade and hugging each other. Total strangers uniting in a bond only they could understand. The Korean War vets were next up. They were greeted with lots of applause and thanks. This one group has the most Asian representation as Koreans were most helpful in assisting the US in winning that war.

WW2 Vet Ready to Chase Out the Enemy

WW2 Vet Ready to Chase Out the Enemy

Cub Scouts Carrying Banner

Cub Scouts Carrying Banner

Korean Vets waving to the crowd

Korean Vets waving to the crowd

You could not help but feel an immense sense of pride when the so called Greatest Generation appeared. A World War II vet dressed in full uniform led the way with some pep and determination as though he were ready to take on some Nazi soldiers once again. Remaining WWII vets waved to the crowd while a large group of Cub Scouts carried a banner honoring the Greatest Generation through community service. Another notable marching band were from Havre de Grace High School. They just warming things up for the Navy and their PT cruisers. Not too far behind them were the Air Force and the NY Chapter of the Blue Star Moms.  The Coast Guard  showed off one of their smaller patrol boats. Their band played pretty well too. The vet group that got the loudest applause was for the Next Greatest Generation, the Iraq and Afghanistan War vets. They all came ready with their we Are United green sweatshirts. The crowd really got into it when they passed by. The tail end of the parade wrapped up with support organizations like Operation Mend and a newer on Operation Chillout which supports homeless vets. Closing out the parade were the various ROTC organizations throughout the tri-state  area. If there were any doubts about the future of our military, the youth of these ROTC camps wiped them away. They were disciplined and determined and eager to learn. Walking away from the parade always reminds me of how blessed we all are to live in this great country and just how much we each owe to our vets. It was on their backs that the great experiment begun by the Founding Fathers in 1776 continues to thrive and remain a beacon of hope for the world to follow. God Bless America.

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God Bless America

God Bless America

Monster Return for the Village Halloween Parade

1 Nov
Skeleton Puppet Kicks off the Halloween parade

Skeleton Puppet Kicks off the Halloween parade

After Sandy knocked out last year’s annual Village Halloween Parade, more than a million people came out in costume to make it one of the best parades of the year. Known to be the largest Halloween party in the country and I guess the planet since the US is the largest country that celebrates Halloween, New Yorkers once again showed off why they are the most creative and inventive people around. The parade route on 6th Ave from Spring to 16th Sts. was jammed wall to wall with revelers waiting for the parade to kick off.  It felt like New Year’s Eve at Times Square. The mounted police signaled the start of the parade and as usual many blessings were given by the angelic fairies and their pixie dust spread over all the revelers. Brass band music was the soundtrack for hundreds of skeleton, bat and pumpkin puppets mixing it up with crowd and getting them ready for what would be an amazing night of costume, music , dance and lots of fright and danger lurking in every horde of people walking up 6th Ave. Everyone got a kick out the velociraptor costume..not the cheap raptor costume..the real deal. The first of a few samba bands came up and really got the crowd worked up. The samba girls were working it.

Velociraptor looking for a snack

Velociraptor looking for a snack

Samba dancers having fun

Samba dancers having fun

Looking for the next adventure

Looking for the next adventure

A NY favorite Hungry March Band kept the energy level on high.  A slew of creepy killer clowns were slicing their way through the crowd. Good thing they didn’t get to the lady in body art. Another samba drum band came by with one of the scariest costumes at the parade. NY clubs compete for the after parade crowd and Webster Hall had one of the better floats with their sexy caged dancers teasing the crowd. One of the most anticipated parts of the parade did not disappoint. The Thriller group put on a nice show for everyone. They were soon followed by an impressive tribute to Michael Jackson.  The first of a few cars drove up after the marshmallow man was seen being chased by the Ghostbusters. Everyone got a kick out of not one but two batmobiles and Batman out to nab his foes.

Crazy body art

Crazy body art

Beast in chains

Beast in chains

One batmobile

One batmobile

Second Batmobile

Second Batmobile

Of course a parade isn’t a parade without a marching band and the first one was the cool band from Princeton.   Some folks were a little disturbed by the mystical children chomping on some human limbs. Friends getting dressed up as groups are always the best and one of the most impressive was the group as X-Men. They had it down to a tee.  Another marching band that really had some fun at the parade were the Royal Knights Marching Band.  But the samba band that followed them really got the most attention with some sizzling hot dancers getting the crowd all worked up.  A herd of zombies that could have easily been cast in The Walking Dead made their way up the parade route. Even Wendy Williams showed up asking everyone how they were doing..yeah she was scary.  After the parade was over, revelers were having impromptu celebrations of the side streets with plenty of photo ops. Walking away to the PATH station, it was clear the Village Halloween Parade is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack and better than ever.

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It was a hell of a ride..scare ya later

It was a hell of a ride..scare ya later

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