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Polish Pride and Power Appear at Pulaski Parade

5 Oct

     Early October is one of the best times to be in NYC. The weather is usually pleasant. The Yankees are in the playoffs  as is tradition and the parade season is winding down with a resonating boom. On Sunday, Rachel and I made our way to 5th Ave. and 39th St. where the 74th annual Pulaski Day Parade was getting ready to kick off.  The pre-parade buzz was felt in the air as soon as we walked around the side streets of the start of the parade route which started on 39th St. and went up to 53rd St. The traditional colorful costumes of both young and old made one feel as though they travelled to the old country.  All parts of the tri state area were represented as well as marchers from Poland and other parts of the US in preparation for a day of pride and celebration of custom, tradition and contribution to America.  For without the heroics of General Casimir Pulaski, America might be a far different place. Rachel made her way to reviewing stand by the famous NYC Public Library on 41st St. to take some great shots. The mounted police announced the start of the parade soon followed by the Highlander Band of West Milford, New Jersey in their colorful tartan marching attire.  Parade VIPs and marchers in traditional Slavic costume gave the crowd a preview of the fun waiting for them.

     Polish power was shown in the float for the Bricklayers Local Union#1. The laborers helped to contribute to many of the biggest projects in the city. Polish beauty was displayed with all the many Miss Polonias from all the towns that sent marchers to the parade. Getting most of the attention was the beautiful and graceful Miss Polonia from Manhattan, Kasia Markowska. In keeping with this year’s parade theme of Polish Youth is America’s future, many children dressed in traditional costume. Central to Polish society is religious devotion to the Roman Catholic Church as was seen in many marching groups throughout the parade especially with Maspeth Holy Cross Parish.  A parade just isn’t a parade without a marching band and one of the highlights was the Mother Cabrini marching band with their precision and discipline but they had some close competition from the Fort Hamilton marching band. You decide. A crowd pleaser were the dancers from the Hudson Valley but the authentic dancers were the Warsaw dancers.    Parades are always a way for groups to try to educate the crowd about issues of concern and the issue of visas was presented by some marchers. Poland has always been an ally of the US and has contributed greatly to society. Several politicians including US Sen. Chuck Schumer gave recognition to this issue.

        

     Although there was a fair share of motorbikes, the Husaria bike club had some of the coolest bikes. There were plenty of tricked out cars but the one that stole the show was the elegant Rolls Royce with the mayor of Wallington, New Jersey sitting proudly in the back. One of the largest groups to march were from Williamsburg Brooklyn with a live band and lots of happy viewers. Rachel and I met up later towards the end of the parade and were glad to see the mass of red and white all over 5th Ave. had a great time seeing their country and heritage celebrated in grand style.

      

For additional photos go to the photograph links on the right column.

Hi Stepping It in Harlem

28 Sep

    In the shadow of the legendary Apollo Theater on 125th St., Rachel and I made our way to the second leg of the parade weekend for the 42nd annual African-American Day Parade. The parade is the largest Black Parade in America and celebrates achievement, education, and its many important contributions to American society. This years theme of working for unity, justice and economic empowerment couldn’t have been more timely as the tough economic times has hit the African-American community hardest. The parade route started at 111st St and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. and ended at 136th St.  The Blvd. started filling up with revelers close to 1PM at the kickoff. After the Memorial Parade Board float made its way up, the Cheyney University Band from PA., the nation’s oldest historically Black institution of higher learning,  ushered in a day of marching and stepping and celebration.  Grand Marshalls stopped by the WBLS  radio station area on 125th St. where politicians and group organizers would address the crowd with uplifting and encouraging messages. Rev. Al Sharpton drew the largest attention while NYC comptroller John C. Lui was politicking for what could be a potential mayoral run.

    As the politicians made their remarks, the marchers were stalled and eager to march and show off their organization. One of the most impressive displays were Masjia Malcolm Shabazz holding large pictures of former leaders with pride and a reminder of the history and sacrifice made for the community. Things picked up and the parade flowed better while marchers passed by WBLS radio personality Bob Lee as he announced each group including the NY Police Guardian Association, the Baltimore Westsiders and Local Unions.  Then the high steppers from all parts of the country showed off their moves that made the crowd happy.

   

Kicking things off were the Temple Grand Drill Team from PA marching in precision followed by New Edition Baltimore Marching band adding their fresh style to the parade but not to be outdone by the Baltimore Entertainers. However, a show stealer came from Parks and Recreation group with a toddler girl who showed Bob Lee how she danced. The crowd loved it.

                             

     There was a break from the steppers as groups of marchers with educational and empowerment messages gave out pamphlets and raised banners of injustices. Various Masonic groups and Greek Orders from various colleges and universities marched as a sign of unity and strength. Many groups addressed the crowd to give positive messages to take home. Things picked up again when the Show Stoppers marched up style. A classy marching band was the group from marching band from Brooklyn representing Panama. Saving what could be the best for last were the Baltimore All Star Marchers. They impressed the crowd so much, some young gals were asking how they can join them. Closing the parade were the crowd pleasing Federation of Black Cowboys riding their well-trained horses and allowing children to pet them.

                             

Rachel and I met up towards the end of the parade and agreed this was one of better parades we had been to this year and had to stop by Amy Ruth’s for some authentic Southern style cooking. A fitting way to end a fun day in Harlem, USA.

For additional photos go to the  Photograph links on right under “African-American Parade”

Germans Raise Their Steins at the Steuben

27 Sep

    The end of summer usually brings a rush of energy for most as kids are getting ready for the new school year and teachers prepare for the new lessons. Unions and political groups assemble for the upcoming fundraisers and elections soon to come. A hint of fall is in the air as the inevitable change seasons is always an energetic and festive time.  Rachel and I made our way to 67th St. and 5th Ave. for the 54th annual German American Steuben Parade. This was the first of two parades featured this weekend so we would be busy. The parade attracts thousands of marchers from Germany and surrounding areas to celebrate and recognize the German contribution to both America and to New York City. The parade is named after General (Baron) Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben of the Prussian Army in Germany, who was invited by Benjamin Franklin in 1777 to join General George Washington in training the Continental Army of the American Revolution.  The parade began with the dignitaries, VIPs, and Grand Marshalls including Travel Channel’s “Passport to Europe” host Ms. Samantha Brown making their way up to the 78th St. reviewing stands.  Rachel stayed there to take some great pictures of marchers on the red carpet. I walked a little further up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where a larger crowd had gathered to revel in the largest German American event of its kind in the USA.  It was a treat to see German bands play their style of music as it different from most bands we had seen all year.

          

     Over 25 groups from Germany represented over 2000 marchers and some of the more notable ones included the traditional costumes of Zum Stammtisch and the Blaskapellen aus Bayeern marching band. Several floats made their way up 5th Ave. including the popular Hofbrau Munchen (trust me the beer was flowing) and the John Denver float where some of his biggest hits were sung by an entertainer. The local tri state area sent many representatives from youth soccer clubs to car clubs to marching bands. One local group that stood out was the Brooklyn Schuetzen Corp. We were all treated to a German choir, the Bremervoerder Choere, as they sang joyous songs for the crowd to join in with. A crowd pleaser came from Springerzug Herbstein with a lead man dressed as what appeared to be a court jester followed by dancing pairs of clowns.   The German American Societies of Westchester had traditional colonial army outfits and marched with steady precision.    In what can be described as the largest wooden horn this side of the Atlantic was blown by the Waterloo German band from St. Louis Missouri. The lead singer roused the crowd up with a popular oom-pah song then blew the horn and yelled Ricola. I swear I thought he was going to start tossing throat lozenges to everybody. One of the last groups was from Tirol in traditional German countryside outfits. The biggest crowd pleaser were the men with whips. As they cracked the whips firecrackers exploded much to the surprise of the crowd. Rachel and I met up with parade veteran Lee and her son William. She explained that this years parade seemed shorter and not as energetic as in previous years but did remind her of when her father used to bring her to the parades and now she’s passing the tradition to her son. All in all it was a cheerful event with many marchers heading to Central Park after the parade for Oktoberfest to tap open a keg of Hofbrau flown in from Munich just for the occasion. Now that’s what I call an imported beer.

For more photos go to the Photography links on the right under Stueben Parade

West Indians Raise Their Flags

12 Sep

 

  Labor Day in New York City has come to be known as Carnival time for the millions of West Indian immigrants. Since New York City is usually in the throes of winter during the real Carnival celebration, the end of summer celebration was designated as the better alternative.  Rachel and I were in Crown Heights, Brooklyn for the 44th annual West Indian Day Carnival. It’s a time for celebration, dance, music, costume, food, and passing of tradition. This year’s theme emphasized one Caribbean family. As soon as Rachel and I made our way to the start of the parade route, we could see things were getting busy as marchers were preparing to step out on Eastern Parkway near Utica Ave.  Vendors were asking us what country we were from to offer us a flag.  Rachel already had her Haiti bandana but managed to snag some cool matching Haiti earrings. I was on a mission to find a parade related T shirt so I made by way Rogers Ave. where I was amazed at all the variety of foods being offered from all the different islands.  The aroma of spices and meats and rices and roti filled the air on the slightly overcast day. It was easy to see this was going to a great celebration especially after the lousy rainy weather the last few weekends.   Even some knucklehead who decided to shoot his gun in the air couldn’t get in the way of the festive mood.

   

     The NYPD Marching Band were the first ones to step out on to the parade route. The Honorable Mayor Bloomberg soon followed with other VIPS ,city officials,  lovely the Miss Caribbean winner waving to the crowd.  Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was on a float with the King of Calypso Mighty Sparrow as he sang the crowd favorite Salt Fish.  The parade revelers were treated to a special group when two groups from Dominica and Guadeloupe made their way down the parade route with their colorful costumes and lively dance. The Guadeloupe group flew in from the island just for this event and they were greeted with much love and respect from the crowd.  One of the parade sponsors, St. Theresa of Avila Roman Catholic Church, sang religious songs to bless the parade. Then all hell broke loose…

                            

     Carnival parade is one of a kind in New York. Most people wait for their country’s float to pass and then join in crowd in dance and celebration all the way to the end of the parade route and then can go back to the start and join in on another float. Large tractor-trailer trucks with monster speakers blasting everyone’s favorite soca music followed in a procession of masqueraders in costume with little material to show. Feathers were flying everywhere. The Warriors music float set the tone for loud music fun and sexy dancing.  Chocolate City had some of the best representation of masquerade dancers but the Indians some of the best costumes. The energy level just kept  getting higher and higher especially when Brasilia made their way up the parade route with a large following. The madness closed out with a float keeping with parade them… a dj was asking all the islanders to raise their flags when their country was called and then asked to wave it all together. It was a sight to see.

                       

     Rachel and I met up close to the end of the parade and we both couldn’t help but get caught up in all the fun and excitement. We both got swept away with the crowd a few times but it’s all part of the incredible experience know as Carnival in New York City.  Although there were a few police incidents throughout the day and there was tragic news reported later on that evening, the parade was a success and once again the West Indians proved they can parade with the best of New York. Move it to the left …move it the right…  kick it!!!

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-669020

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-669033

Colombians Deliver Good Times in Jackson Heights

4 Aug

  A hot mid summer day was the setting for the 11th annual Colombian Independence Parade in Jackson Heights Queens. Although it was a perfect beach day, Rachel and I made our way to Northern Blvd and 69th St to get into the mix and get a feel for the preparation. The pre parade buzz was more relaxed as the midday sun had marchers seeking shade. This year celebrates the 201 year of independence from Spain and the parade route was bathed in a sea of yellow, blue and red, the colors of the Colombian flag. The symbolic colors represent a part of the country..yellow for gold, blue for the oceans, and red for the blood shed by the heroes of the Revolution. So it was only fitting the start of the parade included the New York Military Youth Cadets. Parade organizers and VIPs were soon followed by a float of the Centro Cultural Colombiano with a lively cumbia singer and young beautiful girls dressed in colorful costumes.

                          

                         

  As a reminder to the crowd of how things used to be at home, a driver loaded up his jeep with practically all his possessions including sacks of maize, a black and white tv, a 50s style radio, a dresser and of course an oil painting of Jesus. He was followed by a cool chihuahua decked out in colors.

                           

                           

 After local politicians and corporate sponsors marched up Northern Blvd. floats with live music were the crowd favorites especially Orquestra Canela visiting from Colombia just for the event.   I met up with Rachel towards the end of the parade and we both looked forward to some good Colombian food. We were kind of glad it was a shorter parade because it was hot and our appetites were kicking in. We stopped by Papa Empanadas, a must visit if you’re in Jackson Heights. It must be a happening place because a parade veteran, Miss Colombia showed up and was greeted by the owners

      

                                     

All in all the Colombian parade was enjoyable and helped unite the largest Colombian population in New York for a festive celebration.

           For more photos click on the Photograph links on the right.

A Promise Kept and a Parade Like No Other..

30 Jun

The excitement was clearly visible as soon as Rachel and I made our way on 5th Ave. near 35th St as the 42nd annual Pride Parade was getting ready to kick off. Just two days earlier, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the same-sex marriage bill into law.  NY State became the 6th state in the Union to take progressive steps and everyone was ready to party like only New Yorkers know how to….hard.  Before the marchers stepped off onto 5th Ave. Gov. Cuomo spoke to the media about the historic bill signing and how New York will lead the way in a nationwide movement. Ahem..you’re next California. He was later met by the Honorable Mayor Bloomberg and openly gay State Senator Tom Duane.

    

They were all ready to take their victory lap down 5th Ave. But first, they had to make way for the thunderous Sirens Arc all female motorcycle club who opened up the parade with over a hundred loud bikes. They were followed by the men in their loud motorcycles. The crowd was in a feeding frenzy wanting more when the signature balloon flag of the rainbow colors made its way down the parade route. Soon after the hero of the day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo marched behind his banner with other politicians and parade VIPs. The crowd of close to two million people went nuts. Then the fun really started.

                           

    The first part of the  procession of loud and proud marchers made their way down 5th Ave. with the most applause going to the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Marching Band, the Flaggots who danced with their flags in superb synchronicity, and SAGE: services for the advocacy of GLBT Elders.

    

The next group included various sports related groups with the most attention going to the dodgeball team as they played with their balls and had some revelers play with them as well. Another crowd favorite was the boxing float and the Bootcamp Trainers as the showed the crowd how to get buffed up. Regional groups made their appearances and kept the energy level high just in time for the nightclub floats to keep the crowd pumped up.

Hombres Lounge and the Black Men’s Initiative @ Harlem United had booming music with fun dancers. The ethnic section was well represented with Asians, Israelis, and the South American section had to be the most colorful and flamboyant but not to be outdone by the Caribbean group that displayed their carnival outfits and danced to some hot soca music.

                          

                          

                          

                         

     Many marchers carried signs showing how long they have been together with their significant other. Some marchers were seen wiping tears of happiness as they now can walk down the aisle with the person they love most.  Other signs expressed how love has no gender and that gay rights are human rights. All the marchers made their way down the parade route down 5th Ave. and down towards Christopher St. past the Stonewall Inn where the gay rights movement is said to have begun. The fight and struggle for equality was finally recognized  in NY State and this years Pride Parade proved to be one big party with a major achievement celebrated in grand style that only New Yorkers can.  Rachel and I met up later towards the end of the parade and agreed this was one of the better parades we had seen all year. We couldn’t help notice the happy faces of the crowd. Yes. Love was everywhere you looked and we walked away proud to be New Yorkers.

For more photos and report click on these links below from CNN ireport and on our Photograph section on the right.

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-627287

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-627288

She Showed Seashells by the Seashore..Oh Baby

20 Jun

     Thousands of mermaids flipped their fins to the cheering crowd for the 29th annual wild and whacky Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Rachel and I made our way to historic Coney Island, Brooklyn, where the beginning of summer is announced with a tribute to mermaids and all sea creatures. The Mermaid Parade is one of the top 10 favorite parades of the city and by far one of the most creative display of costumes New Yorkers are famous for. Rachel was having a field day taking some great pictures of all the great costumes.

                  King Neptune Adam Richman and Queen Mermaid Cat Greenleaf

As a tribute to the original Coney Island Mardi Gras Parade that lasted from 1903 to 1954, the Mermaid Parade has one of the most festive  moods this side of the Mississippi with scantily dressed mermaids with strategically placed seashells. Although they didn’t get beads for their display of creativity (ahem), many mermaids did get graded by the judges of the parade at the reviewing stand on Surf Ave. and 11th St.

                         

                       

     A huge inflated sea creature announced the start of the parade soon followed by local celebrities awarded the coveted roles of Queen Mermaid and King Neptune. This year Cat Greenleaf of Talk Stoop gladly took Queen Mermaid honors while King Neptune Adam Richman of Man vs. Food surely thought about downing a dozen Nathan’s famous hot dogs  as they rode by the parade route on Surf Ave. The Jambalaya Brass Band helped set the tone with upbeat New Orleans music.

                        

                        

Then the fun started with a wild procession of costumes honoring all sea creatures big and small. Some of the more notable groups were the Fins of Fury with a crowd pleasing dance to a mix of martial arts related soundtracks and the Hungry March Band playing  funky music. Although the festive atmosphere is for everyone to enjoy, protesters had the chance to organize and march and bring awareness to recent developments going on in Coney Island. While last year’s parade had many marchers protest BP and the Gulf disaster, this year’s protest was more local.  One group’s band played Mr. Big Stuff in protest of the plans to demolish century old buildings along Stillwell Ave.

         Many of the 500,000 viewers were pleased with all the creativity New Yorkers displayed. Where else will you find 7 ft. seahorses with swimming pink fish circling them. Historical figures Lady Godiva and Marie Antoinette were found making the rounds to their adoring fans. Last year’s award-winning Sexcamaids danced their way down Surf Ave. to the delight of the crowd.

                        

                        

The family that rocks together stays together and that sentiment was clearly found in the KISS family. They rocked the parade.

                        

After all the mermaids flipped their fins, an awards ceremony was held at the Sea Lion Amphitheatre nearby while other marchers took a dip in ocean to cool off after a fun day in the sun.

Let the Summer Begin!!!!

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-624172

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