Archive | October, 2014

Italian Heritage Spice Things Up on 5th Ave.

17 Oct

Viva Italia

Viva Italia


Following the previous days celebration of Hispanic culture on 5th Ave., Columbus Day was a day to celebrate Italian heritage and contribution to the city and to America. Since it was an official vacation day there were hundreds of thousands of revelers eager to see fancy cars and their friends marching in some of the best local high school and collegiate marching bands in the tri state area. This being an election year, plenty of politicians were gathered to gain support for the upcoming elections including Italian descendant, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo. After parade VIPs and politicians marched up the parade route from 45th to 69th Sts., the fun started with Italian cars and plenty of Italian groups representing their heritage. A float with speakers blaring Sinatra’s New York, New York made me feel like I was in Yankee Stadium after a Yankees win. It was always a treat to see Italian police officers and firemen showing a kindred spirit with their counterparts from New York.
Marni Working the Crowd

Marni Working the Crowd

Italian State Police

Italian State Police

Eagle Sun Reminding Us All

Eagle Sun Reminding Us All


One of the better show marching bands came in blaring their loud horns and tight drumline. Stoney Brook U Seawolves made an impressive appearance to get the crowd worked up for a fun-filled day. Fighting back to be heard over a loud float blasting Volare and other Italian-American classic hits, the enthusiastic XFactor Drumline from Mt. Vernon NY showed why they are a crowd favorite. They got some competition when the drumline from Dover, NJ made their way down the parade route. Not everyone agreed with the benefits of Christopher Columbus landing on America. Parade protester, native American Eagle Sun, carried signs expressing his protest over the celebration and urged to have it changed to Native American Day as an honor to his ancestors. I have joined the movement to change the name of the parade to the Italian Heritage Parade and not celebrate a pillager and character responsible for the beginning of genocide on this continent. Italians have been an integral thread in the fabric of this great city since the Great Immigration movement from the 1870s to 1920s and helped create small and large businesses and some of the best cuisine the city offers. The connection to the motherland, Italy, has always been a major theme of this parade and many groups displayed signs mashing the two flags, Italian and American.
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This parade is also a prelude to the many top bands set to appear in next months Veterans and Thanksgiving Day parades. A top band appearing were from Connetquat HS from Bohemia, NY. They set the tone for the rest of the day. A band that stole the hearts of many viewers were the first autistic marching band ever to appear. Another band that made some noise were from North Hunterdon, NJ. A show band that made the crowd smile came from Clifton HS marching band. Their march made them appear to part of a Christmas story. The marching band from Brewster NY were one of the happiest bands to play. Italian marchers dressed in medieval costumes gave the viewers a feel for what things may have been like in Italy during the Renassaince Era. They were fun to talk to event though we understand each other, so I just gave them the universally understood thumbs up for a great costume. This was a fun parade and it was great to see multi-generational Italians have a blast at the parade.
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An enchanting display

An enchanting display

A Spanish Explosion of Color and Dance Rock 5th Ave.

16 Oct

Let's Dance Spanish Style

Let’s Dance Spanish Style


The celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month culminated with the 50th annual Hispanic Day Parade lined up on 5th Ave. from 38th to 78th Sts. This year’s version displayed a wide variety of colorful costumes and enthusiastic dancing from all the different Hispanic countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean islands under Spanish influence from colonial times. As always the first group to march was from Spain wit their fancy flamenco dancers and State Police representatives. A parade staple from Casa Galicia played the bagpipes to get the crowd warmed up for what would be a spectacular day of Hispanic culture. The parade usually goes in alphabetical order with Argentina leading the way but I guess the groups from Paraguay had to leave early and jumped the line as they were the first ones to march after the Spain contingency. They were abit on the unusual side with lovely ladies balancing glass bottles on their head.
Beauty Queen

Beauty Queen

Bolivian Caporales

Bolivian Caporales

Chilean Couple

Chilean Couple


Argentina added to their usual tango dancers float with more traditional dancing. Bolivia has one of the largest groups in the parade as they have such a variety of dancers to display. First are the tinkus, then the morenales and then the high energy caporales from Virginia with their shiny cowboy costumes and bells on their boots. Speaking of cowboys…the Chileans dressed up their young children in cowboy costumes while the girls wore traditional costumes. Another large group were the Colombians with their colorful costumes and cumbia dancers. One group had an usual costume as though they were clowns from the netherworld. Costa Rica was known for their majestic Arabian horses doing their signature gallop as though they were dancing to the music. The Caribbean representatives danced their way up in Cuba and the Dominican Republic soon followed by the large group from Ecuador. El Salvador had one of the better bands based out of Washington DC to appear up the parade route. A large float with costumed characters came from the Guatemalan group. One float of note and appeared for the first time was that of the Hispanic Muslim women.
Dominican diablos

Dominican diablos

Ecuadorian Beauty

Ecuadorian Beauty

Mexican chinelos

Mexican chinelos


Halfway through the parade, Honduras marched up with a band from Las Vegas soon to be followed by the large group from Mexico including traditional Mexican dancers, a marching band from Puebla, Mexico and the energetic chinelos dancers. More Central Americans appeared with a small group from Nicaragua followed by another large group from Panama with their beloved marching bands from Panama City. Rounding out the parade were the groups from Peru with their traditional dancers and the rhythmic and scantily clad dancers from Uruguay. Oh and I can’t forget the Venezuelans. They had a small group to represent. Anyone that stayed for the 4 hour parade was certainly treated to the many aspects of Hispanic culture. One of the best parts was when the flag of the Latin American nations was displayed. United by a common language, Hispanics showed that there is strength in diversity.
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All the Americas!!!

All the Americas!!!

Polish Polka Pervades at the Pulaski

9 Oct

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The hint of a crisp fall early October Sunday was setting of the 78th annual Pulaski Day Parade along 5th Ave where thousands of Polish descendants came out to wave their red and white flags. Polish people sang and danced polka in celebration of the great General Pulaski and Polish contribution to the city and to America. Everywhere you looked there were traditional costumes and traditional dancing. The Polish people are very devoted to Pope John Paul II and many floats displayed his image. Many groups from the tristate area represented the majority of the marchers. The first hour of the parade had many towns and marching bands from New Jersey from Garfield to Jackson, NJ. Connecticut sent groups from Hartford and surrounding areas followed by the local groups mostly from Greenpoint in Brooklyn.
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This year the parade organizers celebrated the 70th year of the Warsaw Uprising when the Polish army successfully revolted against Nazi Germany during World War II. One of the loudest parts of the parade was when about 400 bikers from the Unknown Biker Club roared up 5th Ave. A definite crowd favorite was when a Polish Folk Dance Group from Houston Texas danced traditional polka. They were fun but outdone by a local group of the Polish American Folk Dance Company. They had some really nice dance moves and brought smiles to plenty of folks watching. Displaying more modern Polish vibes was a group from NJ with their Polish rock music that got the young crowd worked up. Each town represented had their own Miss Polonia and each one was more beautiful than the next. I have to admit the Polish people do love their fancy classic cars and some were quite impressive, especially my personal favorite, the Duesenburg. There was even a Mercedes-Benz classic with advertising for perogis. Heck I was looking for some delicious perogis but they weren’t offering any. Oh well. Next year. The Polish people love their country, customs, traditions and it was shown for all to see on 5th Ave. POLISH POWER.
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Long Live Poland

Long Live Poland

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