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Pageant Queens and Holy Child Reign Supreme at the Filipino Parade

5 Jun

Cebu Dancers with the Santo Nino

     The second leg of the double parade day brought me to Madison Avenue and 38th St. where the largest Independence Day parade outside of the Philippines is celebrated. In the 27th year of celebrating the 119th year of Independence from Spain, the parade route was packed with colorful costumes and many elegant dresses. The Filipinos praise their beauty queens and why not since Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach was on hand to wave to her adoring fans. The recently crowned Miss Pacific World 2017 winner, Beatrice Andrada was also present. In this parade more than any other, there are more tiaras than floats. The ladies dress in their elegant evening gowns while the men dress in their formal guayabera shirts. It really is quite a show to watch.  Marchers came from as far as Canada, Florida and Maryland. They all sent a beauty queen of course. Getting the parade started were this years Grand Marshall, Drs. Rodrigo and Elma Castillo. They have both been in the medical profession for over 40 years and have a thriving medical office in New Jersey. Filipinos have long been known for their contributions in the health field and this was very evident in this years parade.


Barangay Gingoognon Dancers


Beauty Queen Beatrice Andrada


Kylie Versoza and Pia Wurtzbach waving to their fans


     There were a few marchers with political signs both in favor and opposed to the controversial President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.  Filipinos were happy to display their native representation as Barangay Gingoognon was an energetic group dancing in colorful costumes. A deeply religious people displayed two of the most devoted objects at the tail end of the parade. The Cebu Dancing Group had an amazing colorful costume with the lead dancer carrying the Holy Infant (Santo Nino) statue with much reverence. They were great to watch. They were soon followed by a religious group displaying a statue of the Black Nazarene.  The parade wrapped up with perennial favorite, the Aklan Dancers. Their numbers keep growing every year. The after parade party kept on going in Madison Square Park and on the side streets where a stage was set up for more entertainment and some great food and after two parades I was certainly going to indulge.

Araw Ng Kalayaan Mabuhay!!




Israeli’s Celebrate Togetherness on 5th Ave.

5 Jun

Start of the Parade

     The first leg of the double parade day started out on 5th Avenue and 57th St. for the 53rd annual Celebrate Israel parade. Although the clouds were threatening, the rain held off and the hearts of many of Israeli heritage were filled with sunshine. Revelers felt a sense of relief with heightened security all throughout the parade route. Israel is about the size of New Jersey but has done so much to contribute to the fabric of this great city.  The Israeli people are a very religious with one of the oldest world religions. This parade is very proud to display all the different members of the yeshivas and temples across the Tri-state area.  Celebrate All Together was this years parade theme.  All the schools and temples brought their banners to display their interpretation of Togetherness. As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade and then the fun began. They were followed by the traditional sounding of the ceremonial Shofar as a call to unite and celebrate. This year’s honorary Ba’al Tekiah (Master of the blast) was Stanley Hochhauser riding on the back of a convertible.


NY Governor Cuomo and Chemi Peres


Let the Celebration Begin


We Are All Connected


     A flurry of yeshivas and congregations made their way up the parade route on 5th Avenue up to 74th St. carrying their banners proudly. One of the best things to witness is the passing of tradition to the next generation. That’s clearly evident in how enthusiastic the marchers were. The zest for life, empathy for humanity, and love of Israel that binds the US and Israel together.  This was highlighted when NY Governor Andrew Cuomo declared Sunday to be Shimon Peres Day and announcing new programs promoting heritage between the New York and Israel. Former President and Prime Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres passed away last year but his son, Chemi Peres, was present for the declaration. As another show of solidarity, both New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Jersusalem Mayor Nir Barkat marched together waving to the crowd. The celebration kept on going as many floats with live music rolled on by but the one with the most lively band was from the UJA float. They were real good. Of course a parade isn’t a parade without a few marching bands. The Excelsior Drum and Bugle Corp are a perennial favorite. Not far behind them were the Fusion Core Drum and Bugle Corp. They were very good. Another parade was getting started on Madison Ave. further down so I had to hightail it to next parade. Only in New York..Oy Vay.


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