Archive | September, 2018

Harlem Hosts a Hip Hop Happy Parade

18 Sep
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Uniondale Marchers Having Fun

     The second leg of the big weekend parades went down up in Harlem this past Sunday. In a sharp contrast to the polite Steuben parade of Saturday, the 49th annual African American Day parade was boisterous with both marchers and revelers screaming with joy, love and happiness. Billed as the largest parade of its kind in the country, the African American parade displays lots of pride and enthusiasm for all the contributions made to the nation and to the great city of New York. Crowds were filling up along the parade route on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. from 111th St. up to 135th St. The warm weather brought out close to 1 million people waiting to cheer on the marchers that came in from all parts of the country.

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A Call to Start Something New

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Positive Messages to Take Home

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Calling all Marchers

 

     In the shadows of the world famous Apollo Theater on 125th St. and in front of the Adam Clayton Powell statue, a reviewing stand is set up for announcers to introduce the many hundreds of groups participating in the grand event. Local hip hop and R&B radio stations also simulcast the event to all their local and worldwide listeners. As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade. Parade dignitaries and VIPs made their way to the reviewing stand in what would be an amazing day of celebration. This parade has always been a platform to educate and raise awareness of issues affecting the community. Marchers were eager to engage with people about issues like ending the school to prison stream and a call to end police violence and killing of unarmed minority citizens. There were many groups calling of the community to get out and exercise no matter what your age. It really is a great day for community for all those present.

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Powerful Messages

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Mayor Dinkins and Charles Rangel

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Drummers Giving Their All

 

     Many floats passed by blaring old school and the latest hip hop hits. It was one big party. A more traditional marching unit came up from Baltimore in the Christian Warriors. They always put on a good show and the drummers were on fire. Of course a parade isn’t a parade without a marching band and Uniondale HS from Long Island, NY did a great job. Dancing groups came to show off their best moves. The Marching Cobras got things started with their stylish moves. One of the best dance groups were the Sugar Babies. They had female dancers break out moves that had them standing on their head. Amazing.

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Cobras Showing Some Swag

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Deltas Steal the Show

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Sugar Babes…Indeed

 

     The fraternity and sorority houses represented very well and had the most fun of all the groups. The last part of the parade always features the steppers from Baltimore showing off their swag. Perennial favorite Mass Destruction got things started with their high energy dancing. A new crew showed off some nice moves in the Epic Premier Marching Unit. They were soon followed by a really fun group. The Dynasty Marching Unit showed off some really good moves and gave the crowd a treat. In this case, the best was saved for last when the Baltimore All-Stars tore it up and sent the crowd home happy.  This really is a great parade to attend and if you haven’t seen it…add it to your bucket list. It’s a must see.

 

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See Ya Next Year

 

Germans All Smiles at the Steuben on 5th Avenue

17 Sep

 

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Happy Times at the Steuben

     The first leg of the big dual parade weekend started with one of the most polite parades of the year. German Americans from the tri state area came out in droves to cheer on their compatriots visiting from all parts of Germany for a grand celebration of German culture and contribution to the fabric of NYC. The 61st annual Steuben parade honors the Revolutionary War General Baron von Steuben but it has transformed into a show of unity of German Americans and folks from the Motherland. The large crowd along the 5th Ave. parade route was getting anxious to see the lead marching band perform. This parade rolls out the red carpet literally at the reviewing stand by 78th St. where parade dignitaries and VIPs take in some of the many talented marchers and bands.

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     As usual, the mounted police signal the start of the parade with the lead band stopping by the reviewing stand to play both countries national anthems. Then the fun begins with the lead band playing a popular marching band tune. As a show of unity, both German and NY firefighters get together for a march. One of the best things about the Steuben are marching bands come in from Germany and play some fine marching tunes. One of the better ones with great costumes from another era was the group from Dinkelsbuhl. They were soon followed by a really fun band called Musikverein Schienen. There were some great costumes celebrating the German version of Karneval.   Various regions near Germany come out in celebration as well. Austrians, Bavarians and even a really cool Swiss Band rocked out. They were fun.

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     Perennial favorites Long Island Volkswagon Club drove their Beetles up the parade route. The doberman dogs brought their owners with them so they can show off their attitude. Beer floats always make the most noise and their patrons can’t wait to get to the Oktoberfest celebration in Central Park after the parade.  It really is a fun parade, polite, but lots of fun.

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Beer and Brats anyone?!!

West Indians Dazzle on a Sizzling Labor Day in Brooklyn

4 Sep
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Fierce Dragon Getting Ready to Fire Things Up

 

     The familiar smoky aroma of cooked meats coming from the hundreds of food kiosks lined up the parade route on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn USA made for an enticing start of what would be a sizzling parade. The tropical like weather certainly made you feel like you were in one of the any of the Caribbean island nations celebrating their culture and raising their flags. While there were plenty of pina coladas , fresh juices, and bottled water to soothe your thirst, I was in search of some coconut water right out of the coconut. Finally found a vendor who cut up the fruit with his machete and I was delightfully happy to enjoy one of the best kinds of water Mother Nature has given us. Then I learned how to use a piece of the hulk to eat the meat of the coconut. I was definitely going Islander today. Since the parade is held on Labor Day, I had the chance to speak with local grass-root organizers about issues that affect every day workers and immigration rights and an end to US colonialism especially with regards to Puerto Rico.

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NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Getting Votes

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Getting Fierce for the Parade

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Amazing Float

     Parade organizers made their way up the parade route just past Washington St. where reviewing stands were set up for judges to rate the various groups on originality and costumes. There were plenty of costumes and groups to judge as this is one of the largest parades in the City. Hundreds of thousands march and dance in the parade and well over 1 million people come out to enjoy the sights and sounds of all things Caribbean. Kicking things off were the NYPD Steel Drum and Brass Band. They got the early crowd into the festivities with some nice tunes. As usual, local politicians greeting the crowd. This being an election year for NYS Governor, both Democratic candidates, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and contender Cynthia Nixon were present trying to win votes. After all the politicians and VIPs made their way up the parade route, then the fun started. The first of many groups with stylish costumes was Blue Wave with designer Donna Dove and her group getting the crowd worked up. They did a great job.

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Costume Designer Donna Dove and her Blue Wave Creation

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Warrior Princess

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Masqueraders Having Fun

     The part that most people come out to see are the colorful costumes the masqueraders wear as they follow the big tractor trailers with huge speakers playing all the hits. You can jump over the railing on Eastern Parkway starting at Utica Ave. and go all the way to Washington St. and join in and dance with your favorite group…hop on a train and go back to Utica Ave. and do it all over again. Only in NY. One group that has great costumes and wows the crowd is Stronjeh  Intl. They had an amazing display. One of the best things to see is when groups following the tractor trailers are asked to raise their flags to represent their country. The largest group of the parade and celebrating their 10th year was the ever popular Ramajay Mas. They always set the bar to what masqueraders and good music to entertain the crowd. Their grand finale at the judges stand was amazing. To date many have tried to copy but no group has yet to surpass their energy and dominance of parade floats. They had plenty of competition though. Right behind them were the Dingolay group with their black devil costumes. That group was sizzling the streets even more than the hot temperature. Another group that was having lots of fun was the Kaios float. They were pretty good.

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Impressive Float

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Dazzling Beauties

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Having Fun at the Parade

This is truly one of the best parades in the City. Delicious food, soothing drinks, great music, stunning costumes and floats…it’s Carnival in the streets of New York.

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Happy Carnival

 

 

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