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Winds Let Up At the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

30 Nov
Papa Smurf at the Parade

Papa Smurf Rocks the Parade

The biggest worry on the ice-cold Thanksgiving morning was if the winds would die down enough for the big balloons to fly. A trademark of the parade and a fan favorite of every kid from 2 to 92, the larger balloons were flown a little lower to the ground just in case the wind gusts created any serious problems. For the first time in its 87 year history, opening the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade were a group of robots created by students from Texas. I know plenty of kids wishing to spend an hour with the robot with the basketballs to see who has a better corner jump shot.   Once the giant float with the pilgrims riding on top a huge turkey passed by, everyone knew the parade was under way. The largest collegiate marching band in the country, James Madison University Marching Band from Harrisonburg, Virginia kicked things off. The first of the many giant balloons made its appearance with newcomer Woodstock riding on top of a flying Snoopy giving him directions so they don’t bump into any tall buildings. Right on Snoopy’s tail was the tall and majestic Sonic balloon. The Miss Kitty balloon flew with minor turbulence but did manage to navigate her way safely.  A tropical group full of parrots and giraffes lead the way for the monkey float with Julius. Fitness guru, Richard Simmons, was a hit for the older crowd that remembered his light-hearted antics from the 80s and 90s. He hasn’t changed one bit. The Union HS Marching Band from Tulsa, OK were a big hit among the marching bands. A more serious looking band followed them as the US Marine Corp Band kicked it up a notch.

Snoopy carries Woodstock for a ride

Snoopy carries Woodstock for a ride

Sonic racing towards the finish line

Sonic racing towards the finish line

Julius puts on a Show

Julius puts on a Show

A newcomer and quite appropriate giant balloon flew by with kids singing the cartoon favorite’s theme song. Spongebob Squarepants flew on by while holding on to his red Santa hat in case it flew off with a wind gust. Following the crowd favorite was a fun and energetic  marching band from Tarpon Springs. They were amazing and had to march a little faster as one of the biggest giant balloons was gaining on them. The huge black dragon from the blockbuster hit “How To Train Your Dragon” made its first appearance at this parade. Quite impressive. A fun-dressed marching band from Ooltewah Tennessee led the way for a new balloon representing the Wizard of Oz movie. The coolest part of that group was a basket carrying the Grand Wizard of Oz underneath the giant balloon…much like the scene in the film. Crowd favorite Spiderman made his way down the parade route on 6th Ave, however his left arm was a little limp as it got punctured by a tree at the start of the parade by Central Park West.

Spongebob saving his hat

Spongebob saving his hat

Newcomer Dragon puts a scare to the crowd

Newcomer Dragon puts a scare to the crowd

Fun Band from Tennessee

Fun Band from Tennessee

The big Apple float carried some sports legends including former NFL players Amani Toomer,  Hines Ward, Bart Oates, and Joe Namath who personally guaranteed everyone would have fun at the parade. There are hundreds of clowns at this parade and one of the better ones are the cops and robbers clowns. They always get the crowd worked up with their antics. The best of the best marching bands from UMass blew the crowd away with their tight march and loud music. Fireman clowns and cute dalmatians arrived just ahead of the fireman giant balloon. Younger kids really cheered on the Despicable Me float with the movie characters working the crowd. Plenty of cupcake and cookie clowns walked on by just ahead of the huge Doughboy balloon. The Toro Marching Band from Arizona was impressive but had to march faster because new entry balloon Finn and Jake were a bit out of control but no need to fear. Right behind them was the Buzz Lightyear giant balloon to save the day from any danger. The parade was winding down as there were many elves looking to help any one they could.  Giant balloon Virginia carrying a letter with a wish list for Santa let everyone know the big moment was soon at hand. But first another character with long white hair had to make his appearance. None other than Papa Smurf floated on by to the delight of the crowd. That high energy worked its way into the last of the marching bands in the Great American Band.  Then the moment everyone was waiting for arrived. The huge float with reindeer on top with Santa and Mrs. Claus waving to crowd. Looking at the wonder in the eyes of the children around me was heartwarming and brings out the kid in everyone.

UMass Band blew away the crowd

UMass Band blew away the crowd

Dalmatian howling it up

Dalmatian howling it up

Doughboy cooking up some fun

Doughboy cooking up some fun

Jake and Finn chased by Buzz Lightyear

Jake and Finn chased by Buzz Lightyear

This parade closes out what was an amazing parade year. From the start of the year with the Chinese Lunar Year to St. Patrick’s to the Mermaid to the Puerto Rican to Labor Day to Halloween to Veterans Day it was one of the best parade years I have witnessed. Thanks to the NYPD for keeping the millions of people watching the parades safe. Thanks to the parade organizers and marchers for making this a memorable year for so many people. And thanks to you the reader for keeping this labor of love going strong. See you next year.

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Let the good times come

Let the good times come

Thousands of Vets Thanked at America’s Parade

12 Nov
West Point Cadets Honor Our Veterans

West Point Cadets Honor Our Veterans

One of the best things about blogging on NYC parades is being a witness to history and no other parade than the Veterans Day parade shows how America has changed and shaped the world we know today. This is one of my favorite parades to attend. In no other parade will Medal of Honor recipients gather to be honored and thanked for their bravery and heroics during the most difficult of circumstances. There are many Veterans Day parades throughout the country but the one in NYC is the largest. All the armed forces send their reps to march and remind everyone the freedom we all share in this country is not free and these men and women sacrificed their time and energy in the name of country. All sent far away from home to carry out a mission to help preserve freedom here and abroad. Some soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice while the ones that survived are honored on the 11th day of the 11th month keeping the tradition from the end of First World War.

Medal of Honor Recipient Sgt. Leroy Petry

Medal of Honor Recipient Sgt. Leroy Petry

WTC Flag Volunteers

WTC Flag Volunteers

Army Invades the Parade

Army Invades the Parade

While some pundits claim the 20th century was Americas century and this nation is not what once was, I would like to remind you that when a great tragedy strikes like the massive typhoon Yolanda that devastated parts of the Philippines recently, the first nation called upon to assist was the US and its naval strength. Not China, not India, not England, not Russia…the USA baby. The strength of our armed forces defeated fascism, tyranny, oppression and forces determined to suppress the freedom we enjoy today. That same freedom that so many people around the world seek in their own lives and in their own countries. It is with great pride we salute and thank our vets and all their supporters throughout the years in this joyous parade. As usual, there is a ceremony in Madison Square Park where VIPS,  Grand Marshalls, city politicos and of course many veterans assemble just before the parade kicks off from 23rd St.and 5th Ave. up to 47th St. Taps were played and the flag lowered half staff in honor of those fallen heroes. The silence was broken by a 21 gun salute. Walking up to the front of the parade, the anticipation was high and the energy even higher. Those army guys just can’t keep quiet.

Andrew Sisters cover band

Andrew Sisters cover band

Army Recruiters looking for New Recruits

Army Recruiters looking for New Recruits

Brooklyn Firefighters Carrying US Flags

Brooklyn Firefighters Carrying US Flags

The mounted police signaled the start of the parade and were soon followed by local politicians and parade dignitaries. The first of national symbols made it’s way up the parade route in this nationally televised event. At least two dozen proud people carried the flag found in the rubble at the World Trade Center after the attacks on 9/11.  The crowd was treated to a newer rendition of the famous Andrew Sisters “Bugle Boy“, made popular during World War II. Keeping up with the tradition, the cadets from West Point made their appearance with their sharp uniforms soon followed by the new recruits of the armed forces who took their oath by the reviewing stand in front of the landmark New York Public Library. The first of many marching bands came up from Hinsdale, Illinois. They were pretty good.

Medal of Honor Float

Medal of Honor Float

Marine Corp. Marching up 5th Ave.

Marine Corp. Marching up 5th Ave.

Louisburg Kansas Marching Band

Louisburg Kansas Marching Band

A loud and crowd favorite were the members of the Wounded Warrior Project celebrating their 10 years of service for veterans. The special treat rolled up with the float carrying four Medal of Honor recipients. The latest honoree being Leroy Petry was having the most fun with the crowd. NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo led the way for the Marine Corp. Then an energetic marching band from Louisburg, Kansas kept the crowd geared up for more action as the first group of veterans made their way up the parade route.  The Vietnam War vets got a large ovation and thanks from the crowd. It was great to see vets marching up 5th Ave. spotting someone with a Vietnam War vet cap on and just reaching over the iron barricade and hugging each other. Total strangers uniting in a bond only they could understand. The Korean War vets were next up. They were greeted with lots of applause and thanks. This one group has the most Asian representation as Koreans were most helpful in assisting the US in winning that war.

WW2 Vet Ready to Chase Out the Enemy

WW2 Vet Ready to Chase Out the Enemy

Cub Scouts Carrying Banner

Cub Scouts Carrying Banner

Korean Vets waving to the crowd

Korean Vets waving to the crowd

You could not help but feel an immense sense of pride when the so called Greatest Generation appeared. A World War II vet dressed in full uniform led the way with some pep and determination as though he were ready to take on some Nazi soldiers once again. Remaining WWII vets waved to the crowd while a large group of Cub Scouts carried a banner honoring the Greatest Generation through community service. Another notable marching band were from Havre de Grace High School. They just warming things up for the Navy and their PT cruisers. Not too far behind them were the Air Force and the NY Chapter of the Blue Star Moms.  The Coast Guard  showed off one of their smaller patrol boats. Their band played pretty well too. The vet group that got the loudest applause was for the Next Greatest Generation, the Iraq and Afghanistan War vets. They all came ready with their we Are United green sweatshirts. The crowd really got into it when they passed by. The tail end of the parade wrapped up with support organizations like Operation Mend and a newer on Operation Chillout which supports homeless vets. Closing out the parade were the various ROTC organizations throughout the tri-state  area. If there were any doubts about the future of our military, the youth of these ROTC camps wiped them away. They were disciplined and determined and eager to learn. Walking away from the parade always reminds me of how blessed we all are to live in this great country and just how much we each owe to our vets. It was on their backs that the great experiment begun by the Founding Fathers in 1776 continues to thrive and remain a beacon of hope for the world to follow. God Bless America.

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God Bless America

God Bless America

Monster Return for the Village Halloween Parade

1 Nov
Skeleton Puppet Kicks off the Halloween parade

Skeleton Puppet Kicks off the Halloween parade

After Sandy knocked out last year’s annual Village Halloween Parade, more than a million people came out in costume to make it one of the best parades of the year. Known to be the largest Halloween party in the country and I guess the planet since the US is the largest country that celebrates Halloween, New Yorkers once again showed off why they are the most creative and inventive people around. The parade route on 6th Ave from Spring to 16th Sts. was jammed wall to wall with revelers waiting for the parade to kick off.  It felt like New Year’s Eve at Times Square. The mounted police signaled the start of the parade and as usual many blessings were given by the angelic fairies and their pixie dust spread over all the revelers. Brass band music was the soundtrack for hundreds of skeleton, bat and pumpkin puppets mixing it up with crowd and getting them ready for what would be an amazing night of costume, music , dance and lots of fright and danger lurking in every horde of people walking up 6th Ave. Everyone got a kick out the velociraptor costume..not the cheap raptor costume..the real deal. The first of a few samba bands came up and really got the crowd worked up. The samba girls were working it.

Velociraptor looking for a snack

Velociraptor looking for a snack

Samba dancers having fun

Samba dancers having fun

Looking for the next adventure

Looking for the next adventure

A NY favorite Hungry March Band kept the energy level on high.  A slew of creepy killer clowns were slicing their way through the crowd. Good thing they didn’t get to the lady in body art. Another samba drum band came by with one of the scariest costumes at the parade. NY clubs compete for the after parade crowd and Webster Hall had one of the better floats with their sexy caged dancers teasing the crowd. One of the most anticipated parts of the parade did not disappoint. The Thriller group put on a nice show for everyone. They were soon followed by an impressive tribute to Michael Jackson.  The first of a few cars drove up after the marshmallow man was seen being chased by the Ghostbusters. Everyone got a kick out of not one but two batmobiles and Batman out to nab his foes.

Crazy body art

Crazy body art

Beast in chains

Beast in chains

One batmobile

One batmobile

Second Batmobile

Second Batmobile

Of course a parade isn’t a parade without a marching band and the first one was the cool band from Princeton.   Some folks were a little disturbed by the mystical children chomping on some human limbs. Friends getting dressed up as groups are always the best and one of the most impressive was the group as X-Men. They had it down to a tee.  Another marching band that really had some fun at the parade were the Royal Knights Marching Band.  But the samba band that followed them really got the most attention with some sizzling hot dancers getting the crowd all worked up.  A herd of zombies that could have easily been cast in The Walking Dead made their way up the parade route. Even Wendy Williams showed up asking everyone how they were doing..yeah she was scary.  After the parade was over, revelers were having impromptu celebrations of the side streets with plenty of photo ops. Walking away to the PATH station, it was clear the Village Halloween Parade is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack and better than ever.

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It was a hell of a ride..scare ya later

It was a hell of a ride..scare ya later

A Howling Good Time at the Doggie Halloween Parade

28 Oct
Top Prize For how Winner

Top Prize For Show Winner…Lobster Bake

Our little furry friends dragged their owners over to Tompkins Square Park this past Saturday for the 23rd annual Dog Halloween Costume Parade. Hundreds of dogs dressed up for their owners in the hope of winning top dog..umm prize. NYers have a reputation for being the most creative and inventive people in the country and they surely did not disappoint.  If this was a prelude to the biggest Halloween party in the country this Thursday, then the Halloween Parade in the Village will be one of the best ever. The set up for this parade was in the dog run in the park with judges on one side and two hosts introducing all the contestants and their owners with a runway to show off their costumes. Since there were hundreds of entries, the showing was broken up into three parts and then the grand finale with the best in show prize. Probably the best part of the parade was seeing an entire family get dressed up to anyone of a number of themes. One that robbed the hearts of many was the Star Wars entry with two pugs as Yoda and Darth Vader while the cutest baby was Princess Leia. Then there was a family dressed as the cast from The Sandlot with a mastiff that looked like he ate a few dogs for lunch. Probably one of the biggest surprises was the Dreams Do Come True entry when there was a marriage proposal just as they were being introduced.  She accepted. But the entry that directly followed them was the amazing Lobster Bake with two chihuahuas dressed as a chef and a lobster complete with kitchen and bubbles. It won the award for the best in show in what was a record attendance for the event.  They really went over the top on this one and deserved it. As far as parades go, it was a fun family event that you should experience once in your lifetime.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

The Sandlot Family

The Sandlot Family

Star Wars Family

Star Wars Family

Man proposing to his lady

Man proposing to his lady

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Some Dreams Really Do Come True...Congrats

Some Dreams Really Do Come True…Congrats

Bolivians Shake Their Boots in Jackson Heights

21 Oct
Caporales San Simon USA

Caporales San Simon USA

The end of this years neighborhood ethnic parades couldn’t have been any more colorful and brilliant than the energetic Bolivian Parade held this past Sunday in Jackson Heights Queens. In only its third year, the Bolivian parade is getting more popular among Bolivians and by many other ethnic groups that call the diverse neighborhood around 37th Ave. their home.  Rich in culture and just as diverse as the area, Bolivians showed off many parts of their heritage. Kicking off the parade were the slow but rhythmic dance style of Morenda Central USA from NY. Their colorful costumes got the crowed warmed up for one of the more spectacular displays of culture and costume. Soon after came the first of many caporales dancers that are dedicated to San Simon. The Caporales San Simon Figuras gave a spirited performance for the crowd to enjoy. Groups from as far as Virginia, Texas and California came in just for the parade. One of the better ones were the Morenada Central USA from Virginia. They had some really amazing costumes.

Tinkus dancing

Tinkus dancing

Morenadas Central USA

Morenadas Central USA

Scary costume

Scary costume

As in most Hispanic countries, the indigenous people soon became integrated into the society yet still keeping true to their timeless traditions. This was represented by the Tinkus and their style of dancing which was probably the most energetic of all of them. Many dancers were exhausted by the time they reached the VIP review stand on 85th St.  A well received group was the Banda Sensacion with the group of happy dancers right behind them. Closing out the parade were a flurry of caporales with San Simon USA being one of the better ones.  Whether you are Bolivian or not it was an amazing display of culture and diversity. As with most neighborhood parades, the best part is when it’s over to get some delicious food from any of the good spots nearby.   Mi corazon estas en Bolivia.

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Mi Corazon Siempre Sere en Bolivia

Mi Corazon Siempre Sere en Bolivia

Italians Rev Up Their Hot Cars for Columbus Day

16 Oct
Hot Lamborghini

Hot Lamborghini

     Fast cars and beautiful women were the big draws in the 69th annual Columbus Day Parade up 5th Ave. Tens of thousands of Italian-Americans lined up the parade route to catch a glimpse at about a hundred floats and marching bands. The weather was just right for a fun day of Italian style and heritage. Most had the chance to see Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC mayoral hopeful Bill DeBlasio meet and greet and the crowd. Even the prestigious Columbus Day Parade was not immune from the government shutdown as the lead band from West Point was not allowed to march. The Ohio Northern University replaced the West Point band on a short 3 day notice. This parade had over 20 marching bands with some flown in from Italy just for the occasion. One stand out band was from Parma, Italy. They had a different style of play than what most New Yorkers are accustomed to but it was still very good. One band that really got the crowd worked up were the lovely Golden Stars and the Band Musicale Comunale from Italy.  They really put on a good show for the crowd. It was a nice sight to see firefighters from Venice march in the parade and share a moment with their counterparts from NYC.

Marni Rollerblading

Marni Rollerblading

Golden Stars

Golden Stars

Miss USA

Miss USA

Most parades I have been to this year have had a nice showing of exotic cars but this years honor goes to the Italians with their Lambourghinis, Maseratis, Ferraris, any car lover would dream of having in their garage.  Even Miss USA was seen riding in a Ferrari. The parade is getting more international attention as a group of Basque dancers from Barcelona, Spain marched up the parade route. The crowd showed their love for them with lots of applause and support. The quality of marching bands is getting better and proof of this was in the Sacred Heart University Pioneer MB from Connecticut. They put on a good show with some nice choreography work. The band from West Islip once again showed why they get invited back every year.  They are top notch.  All in all it was a fun parade with lots of Italian style and culture for all to see.  Loved the cars. Vroom vroom.

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Sailing off into the sunset

Sailing off into the sunset

Hispanics Heat Up 5th Ave. with Some Hot Dancing

15 Oct
Parade of Flags

Parade of Flags

Every second Sunday in October, 5th Ave. turns into a colorful show of traditional costume and dance as Hispanics proudly display one or more parts of their culture. Some things you may not even see in their country but you will see it in NYC. That’s what makes parades in NYC better than any parades in any other city in the world. No where else will you see over 18 countries send representatives to march and show off the best of their culture. This one of my favorite parades to cover because of all the different customs and costumes. Although the same language is spoken in all these countries, the customs and traditions have their own identity. Much like your great grandmother had children and each took off to blaze their own trail, the parade started off with mother Spain and their display of flamenco dancers and the bagpipe band of Casa Galicia. They really got the crowd worked up for what was sure to be a fitting end to Hispanic Heritage Month. The 47th version of the Hispanic Day Parade included a competition among the participants for the coveted Cultural Appreciation Award.

Flamenco Dancers from Spain

Flamenco Dancers from Spain

 

Casa Galicia

Casa Galicia

 

Argentinian Dancers

Argentinian Dancers

As in previous parades, the groups appear in alphabetical order with Argentina kicking it off with some gauchos dancing and an incredible pair of tango dancers steaming things up on 5th Ave.  The heat just kept on building when the dancers from Bolivia marched up with their colorful costumes. Bolivians have always had a large group as they have three main dances, the morenadas, the caporales, and the tinkus. The Chileans made their way up the parade route in cowboy costumes. Another larger group were the Colombians with their brilliant costumes and fast paced dancing that really got the crowd dancing salsa and cumbia with them. A van with a huge rack of speakers blasted some hot merengue so some Dominican diablos can dance and work the crowd.  A float with some Ecuadorians kicked up the heat a notch with some sizzling boosters followed by some traditional dancing. A fired up marching band from El Salvador worked the crowd with their drumbeat.  Last years award winner from Guatemala arrived with marchers dressed in official military attire.  The Honduran group had a lively presentation with dancers and a marching band that could rival any band from NYC.

Bolivian dancers

Bolivian dancers

 

Dominican beauty

Dominican beauty

 

Ecuadorians working the crowd

Ecuadorians working the crowd

Keeping the torrid pace of dancing were the Mexican chinelos hopping up and down in their typical high energy style. This year’s award winner, Panama, had a large group arrive with the ladies in decorative polleras, strong marching bands from Panama and some spicy dancing. They deserved the prize. Paraguay arrived with the ladies balancing bottles on their heads. Another large group were from Peru with both traditional costume and dance. Towards the end of that section were a group of sizzling dancers that really worked it. Closing out the parade was the drum group from Uruguay with their hot and sexy dancers that got the crowd all worked up and wanting more.  But all good things must come to an end and this year’s Hispanic Day Parade was filled with lots of color and pride for all of NYC to see and be a part of.

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God Bless the Americas

God Bless the Americas

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