Archive | April, 2018

A Sea of Blue Flags Waving For the Greeks on 5th Avenue

23 Apr

 

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Flying Flags Proudly

     Greek Independence is a long standing tradition celebrated by the hundreds of thousands here in New York City and the millions back in the Motherland of Greece. For the last 80 years, the celebration has turned 5th Ave into a grand spectacle of revelers waving blue and white flags. Usually the parade is celebrated near March 25 when the actual  date of the uprising and successful revolt against the Ottoman Empire in 1821 is remembered.  The Greeks are are a very religious people and since Easter arrived early this year, the parade was moved to April 22. Turns out better since the weather warmed up and allowed thousand of revelers to line up the parade route from 63rd to 78th Sts. on 5th Ave. The event is broadcast live for local television and transmitted out to Greece where millions tune in to watch the event. This years Grand Marshall was none other than NY Governor Andrew Cuomo who has helped the Greek community immensely over the years.  It’s also an election year, so it’s a good move to get more free publicity. The two other Grand Marshalls were the Honorable Madeline Singas, District Attorney of Nassau County and Pantelis Bombouras. As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade while the lead marching band for the last few years, the Greek School of Plato from Brooklyn, got things started.   Parade VIPs and Guests including NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, US Representative Carolyn Maloney, this years Grand Marshalls, and the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America,  marched up the reviewing stand on 68th St. to enjoy the annual celebration.

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Parade VIPS Waving to the Crowd

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Evzones Marching up 5th Ave.

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Traditional Costume on Display

 

      One of the most anticipated parts of the parade is the arrival of the Greek Presidential Guard, or Evzones, with their traditional attire and synchronized march. They always get the largest applaud from the revelers. The Evzones stopped by the reviewing stand where both the US and the Greek National anthems were sung with great pride. They were soon followed by the representatives from the Hellenic College of Thessaloniki with their flags raised high. A perennial favorite is the Greek American Folklore Society group with their traditional costumes. They always get a lot of applause from the crowd. Joining in the celebration are groups in solidarity with Greeks. The Cyprians always come out to celebrate and remind everyone of the Turks occupation of their land. The Cretians also come out to display their heritage and contribution. Just about all the Greek Orthodox churches in the Tri-state area come out including some from afar as Buffalo, NY and Canada. It’s always great to see the traditional costumes worn with pride and to witness tradition being passed down from one generation to the next.

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See You Next Year

 

 

 

Persians Celebrate Nowruz in Colorful Style on Madison Ave.

16 Apr
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Welcome Nowruz

     In the second leg of the weekend parades, the winds changed from an almost summer feel the day before to an almost winter feel. But that did not stop thousands of revelers to come out and cheer on the ancient festival of Nowruz at he 14th annual Persian Day Parade. The festival has passed down the term “spring cleaning” to the mainstream. It’s a celebration of the revival of nature and things coming back to life after a season of winter. Since the festival is over 3000 years, the Persian region and not one particular country come out to celebrate the event. Originally attributed to the Zoroastrian religion that dates back before Islam or Christianity, Nowruz has some familiar characters of tradition. Amu Nowruz is a friendly character that gives out money to children and has a similar appearance to Santa Claus while Haji Firuz bangs the tambourine to get the festival and dancing started. Pre-parade festivities were getting wrapped up as the crowd was getting anxious to see some of their favorite marchers. As usual, the mounted police let everyone on Madison Ave. and 38th St. know the parade was about to get started.  The NYPD Marching Band followed right behind to get the parade started.

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Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds

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Bahar Dance Ensemble

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Let The Party Begin

 

     This parade is known for its colorful floats and fine traditional dancers. One of the first floats was the Isfahan float with dancers moving to a traditional piano movement. Not an easy thing o do but they pulled it off quite nicely. A returning group that was well received was the Bahar Dance Ensemble. They always put on a great show. The Baba Tahar  float had some elegant dancers with alot of energy to please the crowd. In their second year, the Persian Parade DC Chapter was having fun especially when the Amu Nowruz character started dancing with them. The colorful floats also pay tribute to iconic figures like Cyrus, Ferdowsi, and Rumi.  This is always a fun parade that draws more people every year. The parade route leads everyone to Madison Square Park where the festivities continue. And if you get hungry there are kiosks with food vendors set up nearby. The Taste of Persia restaurant sets up shop there with their tasty vegetarian soup Ash Reshteh…a must have especially on a chilly afternoon.

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Holi Festival Of Colors Takes Over Richmond Hills

16 Apr
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Praying For Success

     In the first leg of a parade weekend, the warmer weather brought out thousands of revelers to Liberty Ave. in Richmond Hills, Queens to celebrate the ancient festival of Holi. Previous celebrations had coincided more with the actual dates in mid-March but colder weather in previous years left the parade with few attendees. It was a good decision by parade organizers to move it forward to mid-April where the chances of better weather would allow for a better experience. Richmond Hills, Queens is home to the largest population of Caribbean-Hindi descent.  Holi has been celebrated in India and Nepal for over a thousand years and is a National holiday. It is a festival of the arrival of spring. It’s a time to get rid of the winter blahs and anticipate the blast of colors coming soon. It’s also a celebration of good vs. evil as a story of Vishnu is remembered.

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Getting the Parade Started

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Feel The Rainbow

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Dancer Getting the Crowd Worked Up

     As usual, there is a ceremonial dance prior to the start of the parade, wishing for a successful event. Then the NYPD Marching Band kicked things off letting parade revelers know things were about to get started. They were soon followed by a group of drummers to get the crowd worked up in front of Singh’s restaurant for a day of celebration. A line of colorful floats from the various mandirs of the area keeps the flow of the parade moving down the parade route to Smokey Park where the festival continued. A stage was set up for performers and the park was open for friends and family to spread the color all around.  It’s a fun parade that has been getting more attention from outside the community. The parade is a good addition to your bucket list as long as you don’t mind turning into a rainbow of colors by perfect strangers. Happy Holi.

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Scots Bring Out Their Best Threads For the Tartan Parade

9 Apr
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Ready To March

     The grand finale of a week long festival known as TartanWeek is always the annual parade up 6th Ave. where the Scottish put on a fine display of dress and pipe and drum bands. Growing in popularity over its 20 years, the Tartan Parade always draws thousands of fellow Scottish pats to come out and cheer on their favorite groups. Although it was probably warmer in Glasgow than in NYC, the eager crowd was lined up around the start of the parade on 44th St and cheered the marchers to the end on 54th St. where a tour bus with parade VIPs and this years Grand Marshall KT Tunstall greeted all the marchers. As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade with honorary lead pipe and drums band from West Point at the front getting the crowd worked up for a fun day of music, marchers, and passing of tradition.

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Grand Marshall KT Kunstall

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Getting the Parade Started

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Shamrock & Thistle Pipes and Drum Band

 

     There were plenty of pipes and drum bands to keep the crowd entertained. The NY Caledonian Club brought their A game but not to be outdone were perennial favorites the NY Metro Pipes and Drum Band and the always impressive Shamrock and Thistle Pipes and Drum Band. Another favorite were the Highland Dancers and always a heart stealer are the Welsh Terriers and a newcomer to the event from Long Island were the Shetland Sheepdog Rescue Group showing off their latest arrivals. This years parade had a more organic feel to it as more groups were displaying banners promoting fair trade and getting back to a simpler way of living. It was no coincidence that a large group from St. Andrews made their presence felt as the big Masters golf tournament was being played in Augusta, Georgia. Golf was first played in St. Andrew’s golf course sometime in the 1400s.

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Proud Canadian Having Fun at the Parade

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Welsh Terriers Steal the Show

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Highland Dancers

     A welcome presence is always the foreign connection to the Scottish culture. This year Canada had a large group that played music with pride. The Forest Legion Group had a blast and really got the crowd worked up. There’s always a group from Scotland that performs at the parade and this year the honor was bestowed upon Sgoil Lionacleit. They played in honor of one of their fallen victims of the Manchester bombing, Eilidh MacLeod.  Although they played with heavy hearts, the played magnificently with dancers leading the way in a show of strength and tradition. A parade just isn’t a parade without a marching band and this year the Homestead Highlanders from Wisconsin made sure the crowd knew they were there for a good time. One of the best pipe and drum bands is actually a combination of local bands. The bands from Middlesex County, NJ and Kearny Caledonians made their way up the parade route with one the best presentations. Once the parade is wrapped up, many musicians gather on 54th St. for an impromptu jam session until the police chase them away. It’s always a fun parade and keeps growing each year.

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See Ya Next Year…

Easter Promenade Dazzles With Color..No Fooling

1 Apr
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Happy Easter Everyone

On a rare occurrence when Easter Sunday and April Fools Day land on the same day, the elegance and NY creativity displayed at the annual Easter Promenade took no one by surprise. As it has since the Gilded Age of late 19th century, 5th Ave. displayed ladies and gents decked out to the nines. Most were out for a stroll on a pleasant day chumming it up with friends that come out for the annual extravaganza. Over the years, the promenade has evolved into decorative and creative bonnets ushering in the long awaited Spring and warmer weather. The areas around St. Patrick’s Cathedral and north to 57th St. were filled with an amazing display of bonnets, fine dresses and costumes specific to the event. I always look forward to the human Easter eggs.  They bring great energy and get the crowd in a happy mood. Some animals even brought their owners out for a walk so they can be adored by the thousands of people attending the event. I hope you enjoy watching the pictures as much as I had taking them.

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Spring Has Sprung

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