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Millions Brave Freezing Temps to Give Thanks at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

24 Nov
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Let’s Get This Party Started

     Arctic temperatures couldn’t stop the millions of fans from lining up the parade route from 77th St. and Central Park West all the way down to 34th St. in front of the Macy’s Herald Square flagship store. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the biggest parade in the city and always enjoyed by kids from 5 to 95. It was the coldest Thanksgiving in 100 years but that didn’t matter. Everyone was there to have a great time and be part of a New York tradition since 1924. With a large display of giant balloons, celebrities, and clowns, the grand spectacle is the premiere showcase that only Macy’s can pull off.

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Paw Patrol On Duty

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Dragon In Training

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James Madison University MB Bringing It

     The parade features some of the top tier marching bands in country. This year the prestigious lead band came from Ohio State University. The frigid temperature had them marching double time just to keep warm. It seems as though this year had more celebrities than in previous years. Headliners included Diana Ross, John Legend, Martina McBride and a whole host of other performers. The parade also boasts the largest collection of clowns assembled for one event…other than a clown convention.

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John Legend Waving to the Crowd

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Goku Ready to Defend

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What A Fun Celebration

     Some of the marching bands putting on a great show were the James Madison University Marching Band from Virginia. They were great and had a loud following from the crowd. Oregon sent some of their best in Grants Pass High School marching Band and Color Guard. The giant balloon of Charlie Brown made it’s way down the parade route soon followed by the Northstars from Syracuse NY.  There was a drum showdown between two excellent bands. It’s tough to decide which had the better drum section. Check out Riverside High School from California marching band and then the thunderous Homewood Patriot High School Marching Band from Alabama. They were both well instructed and on point for the parade.

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NYC Landmarks Got In on the Action

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Frosty as Frozen Olaf

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That Nasty Grinch Up To No Good

 

     A few new balloons made their grand entrance to the parade. Goku, from Dragonball Z fame floated in over 56 feet tall and 70 feet long. All kids were watching in amazement at the giant balloon. The Netflix film,  The Christmas Chronicles,  had characters Fleck, Jojo, Bjorn and Hugg airing it out in novelty balloons. They were fun. Hope to see them next year. Everyone’s favorite Mr. Grinch and Spongebob Squarepants always get the loudest applause. The tail end of the parade is dedicated to the Christmas season with lots of elves and Christmas themed floats gathering anticipation for the last float carrying Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus waving to the crowd. It’s always a special part of the parade to watch kids of all ages smiling and waving to Santa Claus.

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     This years NYC parade line up was amazing. Tens of millions of revelers attended this years parades in the greatest city ever created. In a city with such a diverse population, the fact that all these parades can go on without problems or protests shows just how strong a city we have. Thanks to the parade organizers and volunteers that dedicated their time to produce events that keep the star shining on top of this beaming metropolis. Thanks to the NYPD for keeping everyone safe and FDNY for responding quickly to any emergencies, and Sanitation for cleaning up. Thanks to all the marching bands for the endless rehearsals and making the parades festive. And thanks to you the reader that helps keep this blog going. Thank you. It’s been a blast.

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                   Have a great holiday season and a safe and Happy New Year!!

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America Honors Its Heroes On Centennial Mark of End of WW1

12 Nov

 

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Raise Our Flags Up High

     The red carpet was rolled out for the thousands of Veterans being honored in the annual Veterans Day Parade up 5th Ave. The event coincides with Armistice Day which remembers the end of Word War 1 and is a National Holiday for many of our Allies. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany to cease any further hostilities. Many Veterans Day events go on throughout the country but the NYC Veterans Day Parade is the largest in the country. And New York knows how to throw a celebration. Before the parade kicks off, festivities are held in Madison Square Park and at 11:11 a 21 gun salute is made in honor of all those servicemen and women that made the ultimate sacrifice.  The parade kicked off with lots of anticipation as floats and marchers were eager for the celebration to get started and what a celebration it was.

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Honorary Lead Band

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World War 1 Soldiers On a Mission

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French Soldiers Ready For Action

     Some great marching bands from all over the country were invited to participate in the parade. The honorary lead band came in from Valley Forge with some snazzy uniforms. Soldiers dressed in WW1 uniforms marched up the parade route soon followed by their French counterparts. They got the crowd worked up for a great parade.   Leading the Armed Forces were the West Point Cadets with a group honoring the memory of the 77th Sustainment Brigade which drafted men mostly from New York City to fight in WW1 in France. One of the most anticipated groups followed the Army section of the parade. Floats carrying WW2 vets arrived with all revelers on the parade route stopping to applaud the remaining members of The Greatest Generation. It was great to see people bring in photos of loved ones to be a part of the event.

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World War 2 Vet Enjoying the Attention

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Grateful Revelers

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Army Band Ready to Play

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West Point Cadets Have the Best Uniforms

 

     Kicking off he many great marching bands from across the country were the Seaman High School Marching Band from Topeka, Kansas. They were pretty good. They got things warmed up for the Marine Corp and their group. They have no bands. It’s just business with the Marines. They made their way through for the Vietnam vets. They got lots of love from the crowd with many yelling out Welcome Home. A reception they did not get at the end of the Vietnam War. Another marching band from Grayslake Illinois made quite an impression. The Korean Vets group has always been inclusive of many of the Koreans that fought in the first of the Cold Wars.

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Marine Corp Always the First in Action 

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Vietnam Vets Enjoying the Moment

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Golden Lions Brings It

 

     Navy made their way up the parade route with lots of fanfare and lots of love from the crowd.  Heard a few folks yell out Beat Army in anticipation of the Rivalry football game coming up later on this month. But for today, Army and Navy got along.  Another marching band from Maryville Missouri did pretty good. Even though the Gahanna Lincoln Golden Lions from Ohio kicked it up a notch better. Air Force arrived right on schedule and was well received by the crowd. One of the best bands of the day came in from Towson University in Maryland. They stole the show. The more tech savvy vets arrived with the Iraq and Afghanistan War group. As always they were loud and proud.

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Korean Vet Getting Ready

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Navy Bearing Flags 

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The Smartest Vets

     Plenty of support groups were there to raise awareness of their services. Most people know of the Wounded Warrior Project and Operation Mend but service dogs were highlighted and several corporate sponsors offering employment opportunities to Veterans.   Closing out the parade were several groups of Vets bearing signs for peace not war and requests for more money for Veterans not Nukes. These are the groups that capture the spirit of the day. Peace on Armistice Day. Our military has defended our freedom from tyranny, monarchs, fascists, terrorists and is the best fighting force the world has ever scene. It is the strength of the Armed Forces that helps keep the peace all throughout the planet. And we got there is thanks to all the service men and woman that sacrificed their time and more for love of country. Thank you Vets for defending our Freedom and our beloved nation.

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Carrying Old Glory With Pride and Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reveling Robots Rule the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade

2 Nov
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Terminator Robot Gets Things Started

     One of the most anticipated annual parades kicks off at 7PM each Halloween on 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village, NYC. New Yorkers are among the most creative in the country and the Halloween parade is the premiere display of that ingenuity. Not only is the parade one of the largest night parades, it is the biggest Halloween party on the planet. The hundreds of thousands of revelers that came out on a warm night sure got an eyeful of some of the craziest and scariest costumes. I met marchers that put on a costume over 25 years ago and bring their kids to the parade. That’s what’s great about this parade….all you need is a costume and you can march with the rest of the crowd. This year’s theme was I Am a Robot and there were plenty of robot themed costumes displayed.

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Robots Dancing the Night Away

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Lord of What the Hell!!

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Mistress and her Diabolic Robotic Bodyguards

     Parade director, Jeanne Fleming, always does an amazing job organizing the vast number of creatives assembling some the hundreds of puppets on display that turn 6th Avenue from the hustle and bustle of a fast city into a magical mystical wonderland for a few hours. As usual, the white angels start the parade with blessings and spreading the pixie dust for good vibes. Parade organizers march up with the hundreds of puppets and volunteers at the start of  the parade to get the crowd ready for a wild Halloween night.  Brass bands were really having a fun time with the crowd. The 3 Million Majority Marching Band had some good energy. A creative float that fit the night’s theme was the Welcome to Metropolis group. They were a lot of fun.

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Day Of the Dead  

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Triple Face Scare

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Robot on a Tinder Date

     A few perennial favorites that keep growing are the SambaNY dancers and drum band. They really got into it. And of course everyone’s favorite Michael Jackson Thriller group never disappoint with some great choreography and costumes. The Maracatu NY group always makes some good noise with their drumming. The Ghostbusters group was seen chasing some scared ghosts around. A newbie from Staten Island that really rocked out was the Vampire Rock Opera. They had a mean bass line and really got the crowd worked up.

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     Thousands of marchers in costumes help make this annual NY ritual one of the best parades in the city and a must see if you’ve never been. You will want to keep coming back for more.   Scare Ya Next Year.

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Halloween Parade Director Jeanne Fleming

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Who Pissed Off Freddie Off?

 

Hispanic Heritage Month Ends With A Grand Finale Parade on 5th Avenue

15 Oct
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Start of a Grand Parade

     A month long celebration of National Hispanic Heritage finished with one of the largest parades of its kind in the world. Each Spanish speaking country in the Western Hemisphere and Mother Country, Spain, sent representatives  to display costumes,  dance, folkloric tradition and great pride to the parade route on 5th Avenue. Revelers brought out their flags to display on the railings from 44th up to 66th streets.

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Traditional Spaniard Dancers

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Flamenco Style Dancers

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Tango Dancers Heating Things Up

     Right around noon, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade. This year, the honorary lead band was a Brooklyn-based Panamanian Bugle and Drums Corp blaring their trumpets and beating the drum while a large group behind them displayed each participating nations flag.  They handled the prestigious honor with style and set the tone for what would be an amazing day of cultural pride.

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Spanish Artist Leyton Showing His Work

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Happy Venezuelan

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Bolivians Taking Over

 

     Parade VIPs and dignitaries march up the parade route to the reviewing stands and stage for the televised portion of the parade on 64th street. There are judges present to award a particular group for best cultural representation. As usual, Spain leads the way with artists, traditional attire and music to get the crowd worked up. Participating countries proceed in alphabetical order. Argentina got things under way with a group of amazing tango dancers.

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San Simon Caporales Kicking It in High Gear

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Chilenos Handkerchief Dance

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Birds of a Feather…

 

     Each year, one of the largest groups to participate are the Bolivians. Their diverse culture has Tincus, Morenales, and the high energy San Simon Caporales in their sparkling costumes. They have hundreds of marchers with some of the most colorful costumes of the parade. They were soon followed by the cowboy clad group from Chile. Another large group with colorful costumes comes from Colombia. They had a group dressed as birds as Colombia is known as the #1 country for bird watching. A group dancing cumbia, a traditional dance, showed off their moves.

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Costa Ricans Having Fun

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Cafe Tarrazu Group Makes Some Noise

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Dominican Lechones Taking Selfies

 

     Costa Rica was a surprise hit with a snazzy marching band called Banda Municipal Cafe Tarrazu. The band came up from Costa Rica just for the event and they played very well. The Dominican Republic had some playful diablos called Lechones. I caught a pair taking a selfie. Ecuador sent their traditional dancers.  El Salvador had two marching bands from Boston to compete. The first one, Banda Sombrero Azul got things warmed up for a perennial favorite, Banda El Carbonero.  Guatemala and Honduras were well represented.

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Puerto Rico Is Rising Again

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Aztec Nation Wants to be Heard

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Folkloric Mexican Danza de Los Tecuanes

     Mexico had a nice variety of cultural representation with mariachi singers, Aztec dancers, and a group doing  La Danza de Los Tecuanes, an agricultural folkloric tradition of chasing away the jaguar.  Mixed in the large Mexican group were representatives from Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. Another group getting larger each year comes from Paraguay. One of the most impressive groups comes from Panama. The females wear the traditional polleras and the men wear the guayaberas. Panama had two bands that stole the show. The military style Instituto America from Panama City, Panama was well choreographed. They were followed by the Centro Cultural China Panamena which displayed an Asian influence.

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Stunning Panamanian Float

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Military Band From Panama

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Uruguayan Drummers Playing Candombe Music

     Peru had a smaller group than in previous years. Not sure what happened this year. Uruguay took to the streets again with their bright colored drummers playing Candombe, an African influenced dance with scantily clad dancers getting everyone worked up. Venezuela closed out the parade with colorful costumes.

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Paraguayan Marchers

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Happy Panamanians

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Venezuelans Marching with Pride

 

     No other parade in the city other than the Dance parade brings as many various cultures together. Hispanics share the same language but have a wide variety of traditions, cultural influences and their own story to tell. In this one parade, it’s all on display for the city and all Hispanics to be proud of.

 

 

 

Que Viva La Hispanidad…..

 

Italians Heritage Proudly on Display at Columbus Day Parade on 5th Avenue

10 Oct
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Italian Pride and Heritage on Display

     The third leg of the big parade weekend brought me back to 5th Avenue where hundreds of thousands of revelers lined up the parade route for the start of the 74th annual Columbus Day Parade. Parade sponsors, Columbus Citizens Foundation, always put on a great event by bringing in guests from Italy, several quality local marching bands, and plenty of floats bouncing to the beat of some traditional Italian songs. Events that take place during the year help raise scholarship funds for college bound students of Italian American heritage.  The crowd was getting restless as the 11am kickoff was delayed.

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Proud Italian American

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You Go Girl

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Marni Having Some Fun

     As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade and the crowd cheered loudly while the first group marched up the parade route from 37th St. to 72nd St. All the marchers passed right by St. Patrick’s Cathedral where Cardinal Timothy Dolan greeted them. This being a gubernatorial election year, both candidates marched. Incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo got the biggest applause from all the politicians. Gov. Cuomo was especially happy to take part of the event as his Italian American heritage was proudly displayed.  His opponent, Marcus Molinaro received a polite applause.  Grand Marshall, Guy Chiarello, First Data President, greeted the crowd.  Once all the parade VIPs, dignitaries and politicians made their way up the parade route, then the fun began.

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Italian Secret Service

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Cars in Italian Flag Colors 

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Flag bearers doing their thing 

     One of the best marching bands to make their way up the parade route was W. Tresper Clark HS Marching Band. They were amazing. Some of the local bands came from East Meadow HS and West Islip HS Marching Bands. Everyone was treated to a special show when Majorettes from Casperia in Italy and twirlers and marching band from Sacred Heart combined forces. Some other notable bands were the Connetquot Thunderbirds  from Bohemia NY and the North Hunterdon Golden Lions from New Jersey represented very well.

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Italian Masons Going for a Walk

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Horn Section Going At it

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High Stepping It Up 5th Avenue

 

     There were plenty of great uniforms and bands. All throughout the parade route, people were happy and proud to wave their red white and green flags in one of the bigger parades on 5th Avenue. It was great to see the zest for life that Italians are well known for. Everyone there was Italian…some forever…some for one day.

 

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Polish People Unite For a Dual Celebration at the Pulaski on 5th Avenue

9 Oct

 

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Let The Party Start

   The second leg of the trifecta parade weekend was dedicated to all the Polish people in the the Tri-state area. On the first Sunday of every October, Polish hero General Casimir Pulaski is honored with a loud and beautiful parade up 5th Avenue. This year’s theme was to commemorate 100 years of Restoration to Independence. The weather was perfect for a day to celebrate Polish contribution to the city and to the nation. Hundreds of thousands of people wearing red and white lined up the parade route from 36th St to 56th St. Parade VIPs, dignitaries, and media set up at the reviewing stand right in front of the majestic New York Public Library.

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Miss Polonias Greeting the Crowd

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Traditional Dancers

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Polish Hero General Pulaski

 

    In this the 81st annual Pulaski Day Parade, you can see tradition being passed down right from the start. Polish Traditional Folk dancers dressed in traditional attire got things started with a traditional dance followed by the old ritual of greeting the crowd with bread and salt. The bread is a symbol of bounty and the salt represents sweat for hard work which the Polish people are well known for. As usual the mounted police kicked off the parade.

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Getting Revved Up

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Proud Marcher

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Honorary Military Marchers

 

     After a large motorcycle brigade revved up their engines and the crowd, the first section from New Jersey arrived. Garfield had one of the largest marching groups. Each town had its own Miss Polonia riding in a motorcade. One of the better marching bands came from the Passaic HS Marching Band. A float from Wallington played a lively Polish song. They really got the crowd worked up. A few groups from Connecticut came down for the big event but the main groups were from Greenpoint Brooklyn, home to a large Polish population. The Poles are a very religious people and many floats were dedicated to Pope John Paul II. The St. Matthias Church float had a lively tune for the crowd. It really is a fun parade and great to see tradition passed on from one generation to the next.

 

 

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A Great Team

 

 

Panamanians Proud of Their Bands and Polleras

7 Oct
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Marching Band From Panama

     The first Saturday of October is one of the busiest parade days in the city with several going on at the same time. On Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn, the largest Independence Day celebration outside of Panama was getting under way with hundreds of thousands coming out to cheer on their countrymen and friends. It’s a fun neighborhood parade that showcases school bands from different parts of Panama, fancy traditional costumes and bugle and drum bands blaring marching tunes.

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Traditional Pollera on Display

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Band of Instituto Rubiano

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Fancy Polleras

     For many of the bands coming up, it’s their first time in the US. One band that showed off their moves was the Colegio Bilingue de Cerro Viento. They were really good. Right behind them was a group with military style uniforms. The Instituto Rubiano Marching Band got the crowd worked up for a day of fun and cultural pride. Rounding out the student marching bands from Panama was the Colegio San Martin de Porres Marching Band. They were impressive.

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A Real Conga Line

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Diablo Ready for some Mischief

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First Panamanian Veterans Band Having Fun 

    A perennial favorite that keeps growing are the Campesinos Originales. They brought out 3 different lines of conga drummers that really got the crowd worked up. Bugle and Drum bands are the crowd favorites. A repeat band came from Atlanta. They were real good. The First Panamanian Veterans Marching Band played their hearts out. A local band that teaches youth the style and techniques is the Drums and Bugle International Band Association. The host band always saves their best for last. The First International Band of Brooklyn always puts on a great show for everyone.

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Focused Drummer

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A Family Affair

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Twirlers Getting Ready

     All the marching bands turn off Franklin Avenue at President St. where the parade VIPs are set up with a stage to review all the different bands. Then after the parade ends the festival on Classon Ave. gets into high gear with plenty of food vendors available to try some delicious Panamanian food. There’s also a stage set up for more music and entertainment. Even though the festival is really nice I’d rather stick with my favorite spot… Kelso’s on Franklin Ave.   A must have for some of the best Panamanian food in Brooklyn. Que Viva Panama.

 

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Hasta La Proxima…Until the next time

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