Archive | September, 2017

Stepping It Up In Harlem for the African American Parade

19 Sep
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Hillside Blue Thunder Kicking Things Off

     The second leg of the big parade weekend turned out in Harlem for the 48th annual African American Day Parade. Billed as the largest parade in the nation celebrating Black culture, talent, and contributions to the fabric of this country, this years edition did not disappoint. Another hot day invited well over 800,000 spectators to fill up the parade route on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd from 111th to 135th Sts. The reviewing stand on 125th St near the shadow of the famous Apollo Theater was filled to capacity. This year, announcer Yasmin had her hands full with the hundreds of groups that participated. Some groups came as far as California to share in the celebration. Kicking things off were the Hillside NJ Blue Thunder group with a real nice introduction to what would be a fun filled day. This years parade theme is “Salute To A Better Health” with lots of health related grassroots groups helping raise awareness. This years Grand Marshalls are all prominent physicians and health professionals dedicated to promoting healthy lives. This parade more than any other does promote social agendas to help raise awareness of issues the people of this great city are facing. It’s really inspiring to see so many groups follow in the words of Adam Clayton Powell Jr…”If you believe in cause you must be willing to put yourself on the line for that cause”.   A long time activist, Dr. Lenora Fulani, was getting the crowd for NYCHA to stop pushing out the poor all worked up.  NYC is facing a housing crisis. Gentrification over the last 30 years has pushed people out of their long time homes for “market rate” housing. Although NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio has been a proponent of affordable housing since his administration began, the tide has been clearly set against the poorer residents as landlords look to gain at the expense of others. With a small army of activists, some of the marchers were spreading the word on taking action to prevent further displacement.

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Spreading the Word

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Getting the Drummers In Line

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Best Drum line of the Parade

 

     It was great to see organizations like the Vulcan Society Inc, a group of firefighters and EMTs that support community outreach programs and help recruit youth into careers as firefighters and paramedics. A grassroots group that is taking matters into their own hands is the I Am Peace Movement. They work in conjunction with hospitals to reach out to the community about empowering youth. Girl Trek was on beat promoting women to put on their walking shoes and get out and walk. One of the largest groups participating was the Egyptian Masonic Order of the United Nuwaupian Nation. They have some great outfits and a great spiritual message. Right after them was a parade favorite, the Temple Guard Drill Team. They always do a great job.  This parade is known for its high stepper coming in from Baltimore and this years groups did not disappoint. Kicking things off were the Christian Warriors. A nice treat was a group from both California and Baltimore that merged groups. The West Coat and East Coast Westsiders put on a good show for the crowd.   The group that really put on a great show were the Baltimore Entertainers. They got the crowd worked up. Not to be outdone though were the Baltimore All-Stars and Mass Destruction. They all had great costumes, a fierce drum line and some energetic dancers. This was a fun parade with lots of drums music and positive messages. Of course, when in Harlem step on over to any one of the great restaurants in the area. Ruthie’s always gets my vote. Best fried chicken recipe in the neighborhood.

Marching Bands Run the Museum Mile at the Steuben

18 Sep
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Let The Parade Begin

     The unusually hot end of summer weather brought out a big crowd for the 60th annual Steuben parade on 5th Ave by the landmark Met Museum. The parade is in honor of Gen Von Steuben, who helped Gen. Washington win the Revolutionary War. It also unites Germans from abroad with those of German decent in the New York area. If you know anything about Germans, they are punctual and as usual, the parade kicked off at 12 noon sharp. The mounted police signaled the start of the parade with the lead German band and the West Point Military band each playing their respective national anthems before the reviewing stand on 78th St. and 5th Ave. As another show of unity the NYFD and their German counterparts marched up the parade route. Aside from the traditional costumes displayed by the hundreds of marchers, one of the best things about this parade is the number of bands brought in from small towns in Germany and surrounding areas to show off their style of marching bands. The first of the region came from the Black Forest in the Musikvecein Unterjettingen group. They set the tone for what would be a fine display of German culture. I have to admit, of all the parades I cover, this is the most polite parade so far.

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Celebrating In Style

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Let’s Have a Cold One

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Endingen Marching Band

 

     All the marching bands had their own style and flair to it. The bands from Dresden and Murnau had a steady upbeat tone while Verband der Siebenburger Sachsen was a bit on the slow side. The Wolfenweiler Schallstadt was a group of Germans that settled in the Transylvania region of Europe. Two bands that were pretty good were the SZ Hollenstedt and SZ Bernburg with their airy float and bell sounds. But hands down the band to steal the show was the band from Endingen with their flute, drum and blaring horn section really put on a nice show for the crowd. The Austrian band followed but not in the same league. Mixed in with these marvelous German bands were German beer floats and groups representing all parts of the area, from NY, NJ and Connecticut. A welcome return was the Aqua String Band from Philadelphia, PA. Their Karneval costumes really got the crowd excited.  The crowd favorites made their annual appearance starting with the Doberman dog group, the gymnastic group of the American Turners and of course the Long Island Volkswagon Club. They always get a great welcome from the crowd. After the parade is when the party begins with festivities all throughout the city but the major one is right in Central Park with the Oktoberfest where there’s plenty of great beer on tap.

 

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LANG LEBE DEUTSCHLAND!!!

Colorful Display of Caribbean Culture at the West Indian Day Parade

5 Sep
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It’s Carnival Time

     For the past 50 years, Labor Day on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn turns into a huge festival and display of Caribbean pride, culture, costumes and contribution to the fabric of NYC. The nice weather allowed close to 2 million revelers to come out and join in the fun. This is one the largest and longest parades of the year so far. As soon as you make your way onto Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, the aroma of cooking up some jerk chicken or curried goat or fried fish with rice and peas guides you to some of the hundreds of kiosks preparing some delicious Caribbean meals. The event had it’s history in the 1930s when the pre-Lenten celebrations were held indoors in venues in Harlem. But due to the nature of its celebration, the event had to be held outdoors and eventually made its way to Eastern Parkway. Event organizers, WIADCA, always but on a grand display.  Things got under way early. By 11 AM,  the first of many floats started things off with the NYPD brass band playing some inspired beats to get the crowd ready for  fun-filled day. The parade always draws its share of politicians. Starting off the political show was NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo with Rev. Al Sharpton at his side. This being a mayoral election year, there were many candidates pounding the pavement and asking for votes. Leading the way was current incumbent, Mayor Bill DeBlasio with his wife Charlene.  They were warmly received. It took well over an hour for the politicians to work the crowd but once they were gone, the fun began.  There weren’t as many activists with messages of awareness as in previous years. One group that did stand out was the Mas in Fashion, raising awareness of the evil of human trafficking.

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Fashion March Against Human Trafficking

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New Wave Mas Working the Crowd

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Carnival Time in the City

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Birds of a Feather….

 

     The first of several music and costumed floats to make their way down the 2 mile parade route was the New Wave Mas float in their whitewash theme. A large group that made their way down from Massachusetts was the Bajan Paradise float and their sexy masqueraders. They really got the crowd worked up with their version of Vitamin Water. All the masqueraders and music trucks with their massive sound systems make their way to the judges panel just past Washington St. and the Brooklyn Museum. One group having lots of fun with the judges was the Antwine International Group. Then a huge display of color broke out with some amazing presentations for the judges to score. One large group with lots of colorful and energetic costumers were the Stronjeh Float. But not to be outdone, Ramajay Mas always has the best masqueraders and themes. This years theme was Opulence and it really showed in the costumes and floats. This is one of the only parades where you can march and dance with your favorite group until the end of the parade route, hop on a subway for a few stops and start it all over again. One of the best things to see is when the MC of the trucks asks everyone to raise their flags while blasting their favorite tunes. For that moment, all people of the Caribbean nations unite in celebration and what a wild one it was.

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Raise Ya Flags!!

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