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Millions Gobble Up a Thanksgiving Parade in Grand Style

24 Nov

   There’s only one parade in NYC that reaches so many people around the globe and brings so many people together in one common theme – a time of reflecting and being thankful. The grand spectacle of the 85th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was set to get under way starting at 77th St. and Central Park West and zigzag its way through some of the famous sights of NYC until it reached the flagship Macy’s store at Herald Square. With over 3.5 million people crammed along the 2 mile parade, this was sure to be one of the best parades of the year and it certainly was. The parade lineup included over 800 clowns, 15 giant balloons, 44 novelty balloons, 11 marching bands, 27 floats, and a wide variety of celebrities and group performers.  Rachel and I met by Columbus Circle where the event was being telecast to over 50 million viewers worldwide. The mass of humanity lined up for the parade was eagerly anticipating the first group and balloons.  Children of all ages from 2 to 92 saw the Macy’s Great American Marching Band lead the parade and introduce the first of many great balloons. Newcomer Sonic the Hedgehog made his grand appearance to the parade and the crowd just went nuts. The Cooking Channel float of Tom the Turkey had pilgrims riding on top and they set the stage for one of the largest of all the giant balloons this year, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon. Rachel and I decided to make our way to Times Square and were followed by some cops and robbers chasing each other around that got the crowd worked up.



     Dalmatians and fireman announced the Fireman balloon followed by the Dobyns-Bennett Marching band of Tennessee and the ever popular Buzz Lightyear balloon.  Celebrity Cee Lo Green made his way down the parade route while playing his mega hit “Forget You”.  Rachel and I moved further down the parade route by Bryant Park where the crowd was even larger and louder. They chanted loudly for the Pillsbury Doughboy and Freida the Dachshund and even sang theme song for Spongebob Squarepants. A big crowd pleaser was the “Na Koa Ali “i” Hawaii All State Marching Band. The Power Rangers thrilled the crowd with acrobatic moves. I was glad the Pink Power Ranger didn’t high kick me after she ran into me by accident since I would have missed the Kung Fu Panda balloon. The Carmel HS Marching Band broke up the balloon procession followed by Paul Frank’s newcomer to the parade Julius the Monkey. One of the most creative floats carried New York star pitcher Joba Chamberlain. He was carried on a large turtle float playing Native American music representing his heritage. Joba is one of three active Native Americans playing in the Major Leagues.  The elder statesman of the giant balloons came soaring in. Flight Ace Snoopy made his first appearance in 1968 and was followed by the Peanut gallery. While soon after the remarkable Homewood Patriot Band from Alabama played their hearts out. My personal favorite part was when Neil Diamond rolled by on a Mount Rushmore float singing my daughter Carol’s favorite song, “Sweet Caroline”. The patriotic tone kept building up when a huge Uncle Sam balloon appeared followed by some of the loudest cheers for our war veterans.


     The NYC Police band introduced a crowd favorite. Heads were spinning while the Spiderman balloon weaved its way through the skyscrapers of 6th Ave. Another crowd pleaser was the Nation Ford HS Marching Band from South Carolina. They were awesome. A highly anticipated Tim Burton novelty balloon boy “B.” made his first ever appearance onto 6th Ave. The pride of Michigan came next in the Plymouth-Canton Marching Band soon to be followed by the incredible Build-A-Bear float and the Cutest Miss Kitty giant balloon. Colorado’s Legacy Marching Band helped to introduce the Clumsy Smurf giant balloon. A Victorian style float with the popular Straight No Chaser group led the way for a novelty Virginia balloon. One of the longest giant balloons belonged to a crowd favorite and star of the new Muppet movie, Kermit the Frog. Miami’s Marching Band brought the funk with their rendition of  Jimi Hendrix’ “Fire”.  At a distance I could see two huge red “Believe” balloons which could only mean one thing…Santa Claus was in town.  Mr. and Mrs. Claus with their reindeer and all their elf helpers rode past to the cheer of the crowd closing out the best parade in NYC.  Rachel and I met right after Santa rode by and we couldn’t help notice all the smiling faces of the huge crowd.  This parade brings out the child in all of us and returns us to a time of innocence and anticipation of the upcoming holiday season where we couldn’t wait to open our gifts on Christmas Day. But for now, most of the crowd made their way back home to family or friends to give thanks for what was most important of all–Life!




Quick Note:   This year’s journey covering parades in NYC has been an incredible experience beyond my wildest expectations. I met a number of amazing people from the city and all parts of the world in an attempt to capture part of the New York experience.  First I wish to thank my partner in crime, Rachel, who helped make this idea a reality and took some outstanding photos of each of the events.  I wish to thank the Mayor of New York, the Honorable Mayor Michael Bloomberg for all his efforts in making this year’s parade season one of the best. Thanks to the Community Boards throughout the city for coordinating the events in the different boroughs. Thanks to the police for their watchful eye in keeping us safe at all times. Thanks to all the parade organizers whose tireless work provided New Yorker’s and tourists with indelible memories of the parades. Thanks to all the artists and volunteers that gave their free time to come and express their work and help make it possible. Thanks to the over 8 million parade revelers that came out to support their family and friends throughout the year and finally to the reader for taking the time to view our work and be a living part of the freedom and expression that makes this the greatest country in the world.

Albert Terc

A Long Line of Heroes Saluted on Veteran’s Day

14 Nov


American pride was evident everywhere one looked at the opening ceremony of the 92nd annual Veteran’s Day Parade in Madison Square Park. Marching bands were tuning up, highly decorated officers were huddling, veterans from different war eras greeted each like long time friends do. Rachel and I couldn’t help but get caught up in all the excitement especially when celebrity Cuba Gooding Jr. appeared and met with the surviving Tuskegee Airmen and the actors from Off Broadway hit Black Angels Over Tuskegee. The much highly anticipated George Lucas film “Red Tails” starring Mr. Gooding is due for release January 2oth.  The ceremony got under way and as usual US Senator Chuck Schumer got the crowd all riled up especially with some good news of benefit for our veterans. A VIP that commanded the respect and attention of all those present was retired General David H. Petraeus, US Army and  current Director of the CIA.  The Honorable Mayor Bloomberg and Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations made some inspirational remarks of the days’ meaning for our veterans.  Closing the ceremony out was a 21 gun salute for those fallen heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation and a playing of taps.  Rachel and I made our way on to the parade route on 5th Ave. and 26th St. and then the fun really started.


  With over 25,000 marchers including 22 marching bands from all over the country, representatives from all our our Armed Forces, cadets and JROTC from our area, civic and youth groups and of course all the US Veterans Groups promised to make this the largest and best Veterans parade in America.  The mounted police rode up 5th Ave. signaling the start of the parade with this years lead band from Nelson County HS soon followed by the NYPD band and the FDNY Pipes and Drum band.  Right after them rolled up a huge statue named “de Oppresso Liber” translated meaning “Free the Oppressed”. Later that day at a separate ceremony Vice President Joe Biden dedicated the Special Forces statue featuring a soldier on a mountain horse riding  into combat in Afghanistan. Talk about back to the future. Horses were not used in war since World War I. The next part of the parade was my personal favorite. The parade got stalled abit and in front of me was a convertible Cadillac with none other than Seargant Dakota Meyer, the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam Era. If you want to see what a real hero looks like just take a look. He got out of the car and we shook hands. I thanked him for his heroics and for representing what it means to come from the home of the brave. He then went and shook hands with the crowd until the parade started moving again. Earlier in the ceremony at Madison Square Park, Seargant Meyer had the opportunity to greet the oldest receipient of the Medal of Honor, Nicholas Oresko,who at 94 years young, insisted on meeting the young hero. It was a special moment for both of them as it was for those who saw it. Only in NY.


     The parade picked up when the US Army 2nd Battalion 309th Regiment marched up 5th Ave followed by the Seneca East HS Marching band from Attica,Ohio. Getting the crowd worked up were the US Marine Corp. 6th Communication Battalion marching just ahead of energetic Edina HS Marching Band from Minnesota. The first veteran marchers were from the Korean War. In unison with them were Korean military veterans showing off banners of alliance as they stood strong with our vets. Two really dynamic bands from Centaurus HS of Lafayette, Colorado and Maastricht Scoutinband from the Netherlands introduced the World War II veterans while a float showing the iconic symbol of a sailor kissing a woman after victory was declared were followed by a group of children holding pictures of fallen heroes.  A group of veterans that got a loud round of applause were our Vietnam veterans.  Close behind them were enthusiastic East Limestone HS Band from Athens, Alabama.  I’m glad there was a considerable amount of time and distance between when Army marched and when the Navy band appeared.  Those two might have gone at it if they were any closer. Check out an Army/Navy football game live and you’ll know what I mean. There really is no other college football game like it in the country.  Some really great marching bands kept the celebration going including the Mountain Ridge HS from Frostburg, Maryland, Maury HS Marching Band from Norfolk, Virginia and Pickerington HS Band from Ohio.



     Never too late for the party came flying in was the US Air Force 328th Airlift Squadron and the Combat Training Squadron with their field support team soon followed by the Valley Forge  Military Academy and College. A crowd favorite were the Las Vegas Youth Entertainers singing it up for the crowd. Who knows if the next star on American Idol or X Factor were on that float. Yes, they were that good. Another crowd pleaser were the next group of veterans aptly names “The New Greatest Generation“. the Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans. They have today’s technology to help spread the word and organize like no other group has before them. They can mobilize and educate groups around them with quickness and ease much like how they learned in the battlefield. I was taking in their whole march with pride and it was kicked up a notch higher when an African American marcher spotted a white American Korean army vet watching the parade and they both starting singing the army dogface soilder song.  Another time in our nation’s history and that might not have ever happened.  Closing out the proud display of marching bands were the Lebanon HS Band from Pennsylvania, New Amsterdam  HS Band from New York, and Harrisonburg HS Band from Virginia.


     Rachel and I met up towards the end of the parade and took in all the incredible things we witnessed. With all the bickering and anger going on around in DC and other parts of the country, it was a welcome relief to see part of the greatness this nation is. The veterans basked in the glory of knowing this was their day to shine. Much of the crowd was heard over and over saying thank you to these brave men and women who made a huge sacrifice to serve for their country when called upon.  It was also a day to honor all the support groups that aid and assist our veterans when they come back home. At the morning ceremony I saw a Blue Star Mother become emotional remembering a loved one only to be held and consoled by the daughter of a Tuskagee Airman. Later on Rachel saw members of the Operation Mend group get some encouragement from Sopranos star Tony Sirico. Think she overheard him telling a recovering Marine  something along the lines of better get better or else don’t wanna know.  One of the biggest support groups by far was the Wounded Warrior Project, helping soilders in the transition from service to civilian life. Chase Bank was promoting their 100,000 Jobs Mission program that began in March and is helping to promote the idea with other like minded companies. One of the nicest things to see in the parade was the involvement of our youth from the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to the JROTCs  and especially watching the Francis Lewis HS Army JROTC march with precision. If this any indication of what America’s military future looks like, rest assured we are in good hands.


Stars and Stripes Forever

Ghastly Ghouls Gather In Greenwich Village

31 Oct


   Just two days after the freak “October Surprise” that left New York with snow and slush and lots of downed trees, the weather warmed up just enough to let one of the most anticipated parades of the year to start without a hitch. The crowd was buzzing with anticipation waiting to see one of the most creative displays of costume in NY and the country as stated by a travelling Grim Reaper.  Rachel and I were on 6th Ave and W. Houston St for the 39th annual Halloween Parade. Since NY is also home to the largest theatre district in the country, there was plenty of puppeteer and make up talent on display all throughout the parade. Most parade goers circle this parade on the calendar because they know this one crazy parade and it sure turned out that way. After the mounted police rode up 6th Ave. and the earth fairies sprinkled their magic powder to bless the parade and signal the start of the parade, a menagerie of skeletons made their grand entrance. This year’s theme was the “i” of the beholder and marchers by the hundreds displayed orbs with eyes in all shapes and sizes in preparation for what was an incredible orb on a with a spooky eye staring at you.. everywhere I turned that eye followed me..I couldn’t escape its penetrating stare like it was rummaging through my soul. Then they rolled the eye off to the next block and one look at Frankenstein helped me get grounded again. Never again.



     One of the most beloved attractions of the parade is The Thriller dance group and they did not disappoint.  The zombies were awesome dancers. This parade attracts people from all over as it’s the largest of its kind in the country. A cool brass band visited from Vermont and kept the party going as all kinds of crazy characters made their way up 6th and got the crowd involved.  Things picked up when a samba band played a fast beat and a chicken got into before he went off to the butcher.  The Village Voice float had some fun dancers and were followed by a cool brass band. After a huge ET was seen asking folks for a cell phone,  the Jaegermeister float made its way up followed by one of the craziest costumes of a woman as a spider. It’s a good thing this parade was at night because some raunchy things go on and none more than seeing Stewie getting a lapdance. They were followed by one of the more lively samba dancers of the parade. They were incredible. I made my down to the start of the parade to meet Rachel and must have seen over a thousand creative costumes in about 10 city blocks…only in NY baby.  When we met up a really nice band playing African percussion instruments were just getting warmed up and kept the marchers in party mode.



      Through all the fun the Halloween Parade can be there’s always a chance to bring a political message and try to raise awareness. The Occupy Wall St. protesters seemed to have grown by the hundreds and had some great signs and puppets and folks dressed in costume or was it their normal wear. Of course Marie Antoinette was seen offering cake to the peasants behind the fence. One woman had an Occupy St. Tropez sign. I wish. They had one of the more creative floats of the parade and deserve cudos on a job well done.

 The parade came to a close a little after and there were plenty of revelers enjoying the night all around the village streets. This was one of the best parades of the year. Rachel and I walked away proud to be NYers even though I did look over my shoulder a few times…as I sensed I was being watched by an omnipresent eye….hmmmm.

Italians Sail Past 5th Ave. on Columbus Day

18 Oct


     The trifecta of weekend parades came to an incredible end with a festive celebration of Italian culture and contribution to America in the 67th annual Columbus Day Parade on 5th Ave. Rachel and I took in all the excitement as the crowd was eager to see Italian pride and heritage on display for all to see and no one was disappointed. The event is the largest display of Italian American culture and globally televised for millions of viewers.   The parade officially kicked off when the mounted police rode up 5th Ave. and soon followed by the Honorable Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.  Although these two titans of NYC life are beloved by many, they were getting things warmed up for NY Governor Andrew Cuomo who worked the crowd like a rock star. He stopped and shook hands of many spectators and walked proudly up 5th Ave. to cheers. Parade sponsors, Columbus Citizens Foundation, appeared with their float and got the crowd ready for a fun-filled day. A parade  just isn’t a parade without a marching band and there were more than you can twirl a baton to. One of the first to open the parade was the impressive East Meadow Marching Band followed by the Stoney Brook University Seawolves Marching Band.



     A definite crowd pleaser were the firefighters from Genoa Italy and their vintage fire truck. They came to pay homage to the First Responders on 9/11 and share in the brotherhood that firefighters embrace from all parts of the world over. The blaring sirens got the crowd cheering and set the stage for the Nine float of the dancing ladies, even though there were only eight dancers each one more lovely than the next. They were followed by Miss USA 2011, Alyssa Campanella, as she was driven in a navy blue Maserati. Not sure which one looked nicer.  American Idol star Pia Toscano arrived in her float with her songs coming from the loudspeakers as her fans applauded and sang along.  A child favorite was the Italian Fairy singing Italian songs and dressed in a colorful costume with one of the longest trains in the colors of the Italian flag.  Connetouot HS Marching Band got the crowd worked up some more while the West Islip HS marching band played Taio Cruz Dynamite to perfection.  Then the marching bands just kept seemingly better than the other. Next up was the E. Tresper Clarke Marching band followed by Sewanhaka Central Marching band.  Tough to decide who had the edge as they were both amazing.



     It’s always great to see visitors from the native country come visit and participate in the parade. An Italian choir, Coro In Congendo, marched their way up the parade route singing native songs. A folk band, La Damigiana, played festive songs with instruments hardly seen here in the US. They were a crowd pleaser with their upbeat music and even got Archbishop Dolan to have some fun. Rachel and I met up later and agreed the Italians spared no expense to make this one of the premiere parades of the city. Some of the over 500,000 spectators were treated to some of the best marching bands in the tri state area and a flavor of Italian culture.. I was even tempted to take slice from a woman’s pizza hat.



Bolivians Embrace Newborn Parade In Queens

17 Oct


As NYC is the world capital of parades, it seems only fitting to attend the first ever Bolivian parade in Jackson Heights Queens. Arguably the most diverse neighborhood in NYC, Jackson Heights is the home to many multicultural groups and this past Sunday, the Bolivians had the chance to showcase their tradition and culture through music, dance, and costume. Rachel was attending the Avon Breast Cancer Walk, so there won’t be as many great pictures of the event but there are some nice videos of dancing and the genuine happiness shown by spectators. Close to noon the parade route along 37th Ave. was beginning to get filled up with spectators eager to see what was in store for the day and the crowd was definitely not disappointed.  Kicking off the parade was a man dressed in a jazzy white costume on a motorcycle followed by the parade sponsors Bolivian Parade of New York as they marched up the parade route to the reviewing stand on 84th St.  The Comite Civico Cultural Boliviano group proudly raised many of the Bolivian flags with the traditional red green and yellow stripes. Red for the brave soilders, green for fertility and yellow for the natural minerals. Then the fun started as Pasion Boliviana with their dancing Indians got the crowd worked up.  Traditional dancing and costumes were the main presentation of Morenada Central USA while a Bolivian beauty queen soon followed to introduce the Grupo Cultural Incallajta with their colorful costumes and lively dancing.

 Tributes to San Simon by several groups were the main part of the parade.Sambos Por Siempre led the procession followed by San Simon USA with their colorful turquoise uniform depicting the old Spanish military guard including boots with large cascabelles or bells . Breaking up the caporales dancers was an interesting float called Viva Santa Cruz with a group of traditional countryside dancers. They were fun to watch and a definite crowd pleasers. An energetic group of Caporales from Virginia displayed their dance moves while the Caporales from New York soon followed. A parade just isn’t a parade without a marching band and the only band present was the Banda Sensacion de Nueva York leading the way for a traditional dancing group. The crowd was really pleased to see and hear them perform and many were cheering alegria which means happiness in Spanish. Closing out the parade were the Morenda Cocanis de Virginia with one of the best representations of Carnival and the Gran Poder dance.  For it’s first parade the Bolivian community was treated to a fun day of culture and tradition and I look forward to next year’s parade.


Show of Unity and Culture at the Hispanic Day Parade

16 Oct


There are few places in the US that can pull off a parade like the one on 5th Ave. today and the over 1 million spectators might agree.  New York City hosted the 47th annual Hispanic Day Parade this past Sunday with over 9000 marchers proudly displaying costumes and dances and music from all the 19 countries represented. Hispanics are the largest minority in the US and NYC is home to the largest Hispanic population in the country by city representing all aspects of society from laborers to celebrities to successful politicians and businesspeople. This was a day to celebrate and show off Hispanic heritage and culture to all that came to watch an event that would make all NYC proud.  Rachel and I couldn’t wait for the parade to get underway  as we saw all the different flags held by the crowd to cheer their countrymen as they marched by.  The mounted police made their way near the start of the parade route to kick off the parade soon to be followed by one of the premier marching bands of the city from Mother Cabrini opening with It’s a Small World After All. A show of unity came when the Committee for the Hispanic Parade carried all the flags of the Hispanic countries high in the air. What a beautiful sight that was. Along that same note, the Batala band pounded their drums to a rhythmic beat that got the crowd worked up and primed for the rest of the days incredible festivities. Rachel stayed by St. Patrick’s to take some great photos while I walked the parade route looking for some good action. It wasn’t hard to find in this parade


   Spain, the sponsor of the famous voyage of Columbus, was the lead country for the parade and the first time representative Spanish Civil Guard greeted the crowd. They were soon followed by a bagpipe band and float with flamenco dancers thrilling the crowd with their moves.  Argentinian gauchos appeared with lovely ladies in classy dresses however the show stealer were the tango dancers. Then the fun really started when the Bolivian contingency made their way up the parade route. There must have been over 1000 marchers for this group alone and they did not disappoint. Displaying some of the most colorful costumes and masks we’ve seen this year. The group of dancing Indians were amazing. The Bolivian Tinkus followed with more amazing costumes and dancing. Probably one of the most energetic dancing groups had to go to San Simon Caporales with their fancy costumes and great choreography. Toning things down some came the Chilean group with gauchos and elegant ladies showing off their traditional dance moves. The breather was only for a few minutes as the Colombians made their way up 5th Ave. dancing cumbia and getting the crowd into it.





     Things got a little sinister when the Dominicans marched up with half their group dressed in diablo costumes while dancing merengue and cracking their whips. Ecuadorians represented with a float and marchers performing typical dances followed by the Salvadoreans. The next largest group to impress the crowd were from Guatemala. After the group VIPs marched by carrying their flag, a marching band, Banda Guerra, kicked it up a notch with some really good moves but they were outdone by the Pedro Molino band with their great costumes and choreography. Macy’s awarded the Guatemalan contingency the Cultural Appreciation Award for the parade just barely beating out the Bolivians by one vote.  The Hondurans had a float with an energetic singer while the Mexicans had two bands and great costumes including los Chinelos, the dancing kings.  Panama displayed the winner of the pollera contest while marchers displayed their costumes and an incredible band from Panama played to the delight of the crowd. One of the more unusual but thrilling groups came from Paraguay where many ladies balanced glass bottles on their head while moving  down to a push up position in front of Cardinal Dolan. Remarkably, not one bottle fell. The rest of the group dressed in fancy evening attire as though part of the aristocracy in the 19th century.  The parade was closed out by the Peruvians  dancing to flute inspired music.





      Rachel and I met up later on close to St. Patrick’s and agreed this was one heck of a show of culture and tradition of the Hispanic community and all countries were well represented. These are the kind of events that sets NYC apart from most other cities in the world. Where else can 18 countries come together and take pride in their heritage. Whether one was from Mexico or Cuba or Chile, the same language is shared and the threads of the yarn that bind us all together were all weaved into a beautiful quilt of humanity. Rachel and I and the other million spectators were glad to wrap ourselves in that quilt and walk away with a feeling of unity and harmony with our fellow-man.

Hasta la proxima vez (Until the next time)…

Panamanians Love Their Bands

9 Oct




  Indian summers in NYC are always a favorite time of the year for many. It’s one last grasp of summer weather before things change and the weather couldn’t have been better for the 15th annual Panamanian Day Parade in Little Panama on Franklin Ave. in Prospect Heights Brooklyn.  Rachel couldn’t make this one so there aren’t as many great photos but I did have some help from my little guys, Andrew and Albert, as they participated in their first parade. The preparade festivities were running high on the parade route as a stage was set up to introduce VIPs and honored guests. It gave us a chance to stop by Kelso’s Restaurant for some great Panamanian food before all the fun started. Roaring motorcycles let the eager crowd know the parade was ready to kick off. Two lovely beauty queens waved to the crowd as they made their way up the parade route and they were followed by the parade organizers and VIPs. The parade celebrates the independence from Colombia in 1903 and also displays the vibrant culture and community of Panama.  All parts of the Panamanian community came out to march and display their rich culture and give positive messages of achievement and encouragement.  The focus was on the youth and giving them the inspiration to become professionals in their field of choice.  Then the fun really started as the first marching band from Maryland and from Boston were a prelude of some great band music to come.  Ladies dressed in their fancy polleras and dancing to typical Panamanian music set the tone for the rest of the parade.



     It’s always a treat when people from their country of origin come up for the parade and show off their talents and the crowd was not disappointed at all especially when the Banda Internacional El Hogar in their chocolate uniforms played with pride. A definite crowd pleaser with a large representation were the Banda Internacional  SEEM dressed in their bright red uniforms and baton twirling marchers. They were one of the better bands I have seen all year. They were followed by community groups dressed in colorful costumes and the ones that stood out were the Ballet Folklorico Nuestro Panama and Conjunto Nuevo Milenio. The children were drawn to both groups. Saving the best for last this year were the First Panamanian Drum and Bugle Corp of NY. They closed out the parade and had a large following as they made their way to the reviewing stand and made an incredible presentation to the parade organizers and Grand Marshalls.  Claussen Ave. was filled with post parade activity including a stage for more performances and some great food kiosks for all to enjoy and have a taste of some of the goodness Panama has to offer.



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