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Greeks Turn 5th Avenue into a Sea of Blue and White

16 Apr
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Greek Marching Band Gets the Party Started

     The second leg of the dual parade day brought me to 5th Avenue to celebrate the 82nd annual Greek Independence Day Parade. Everywhere you looked on the parade route, from 64th to 79th streets, blue and white Greek flags were being displayed or waved. The parade coincides as close as possible to the actual date of Independence of March 25th. Hundreds of thousands of revelers turned out to celebrate this festive event which is televised locally on MY9 and internationally where millions in Greece can see the beautiful event. The crowd was really anxious to get things started and as usual the mounted police signaled the start of the parade.

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Evzones Marching Up 5th Avenue

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Folkloric Costumes

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Proud Marcher

 

 

     Parade organizers, The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, led the way to the reviewing stand on 68th street where VIPs and dignitaries captured the amazing display of Greek pride and culture. Among the honored guests were His Eminence Archbishop  Demitrios of America, Mayor Bill deBlasio, US Senator Chuch Schumer and US Rep Carolyn Maloney. This year’s Grand Marshall, George M. Marcus, was honored for his contribution to the fabric of this country. The crowd got an special treat when the Mantazros Philharmonic Society from Corfu, Greece played a marching tune. They led the way for everyone’s favorite part of the parade when the Ezvones, the Presidential Guard,  marched in unison. It really is a special part of a Greek tradition in NYC that makes this parade one of the best.

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     The Greeks are a very religious people. All the Orthodox churches from the tri-state area and even Canada march in the parade with members displaying banners that commemorate the Greek Wars for Independence against the Ottoman Empire. Many floats display images of War Heroes or events that were pivotal in gaining their Independence. Several marchers wore traditional wardrobe that made you feel as though you were in the countryside on the hills of Greece.  This parade is truly a celebration of the unity of Greece and America. The best way to cap off the the double parade day was to head over to Uncle Nick’s on 9th Avenue for some delicious Greek cuisine.

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LONG LIVE GREECE!!!!

Persians Celebrate Nowruz on Madison Avenue on Double Parade Day

15 Apr
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Aftab Dance Group Getting the Crowd Worked Up

     The first of two parades started right on time at 12 noon with a colorful display of traditional costume and dance. This is the 10th year the Persian community has been celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year, on Madison Ave. between 38th and 25th streets. They always have some of the most colorful floats with signs of Spring and rebirth present. Traditional costumes and traditional dancing was the theme of the day. Kicking things off was a festive group with traditional characters Hajji Firuz and Amu Nowruz getting the crowd worked up for a day of fun, music, dancing, food and national pride.

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     A perennial favorite of the parade is the Bahar Dance Ensemble with their traditional  costume and dance that never disappoints. They really have fun showing off their moves at the parade. Soon after them were parade favorites, the Aftab Dance Group. This young group always has new choreographed dances that pleases the crowd.  Persians are from an ancient people in what today would be Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. A group displayed banners displaying their Zoroastrian heritage and their motto..Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds. A great way to live. Closing out the parade is a group chanting the name of Iran carrying a huge traditional Iranian flag while they made their way to Madison Square Park. The festivities kept going with some delicious Persian food and more music and dance in the park. Luckily, the parade ended in time for me to make a bee line to 5th Ave and 63rd St where the Greek Independence Day parade was getting ready to kick off. There was time thousands of years ago where these two cultures would have marched to battle…this time they march with cultural pride and love.

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Colorful Tartans on Display as the Scottish Take Over 6th Avenue

7 Apr
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Leading the Way

     The culmination of a week long festival known as Tartan Week occurred with a proud display of Scottish culture and colorful tartans. This young parade of just 21 years is growing more and more in popularity with more people visiting from Scotland for the event. It also helped that the warm early April weather invited tens of thousands to line up the parade route on 6th Avenue from 44th to 56th streets. Flags were draped over the railing and revelers waved flags in anticipation of a fun day with plenty of pipe and drum bands marching up the parade route. As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade and the fanfare started right away with this years Grand Marshall, Sir Billy Connolly, waving to his fans.

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Sir Billy Connolly and wife Pamela Stephenson

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Mt. Kisco Scottish Pipes and Drum Rock the Parade

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Honorary Young Fireman, Ross, enjoying the moment

 

     Leading the large array of pipe and drum bands were the perennial favorites Mt. Kisco Scottish Pipe and Drum Marching Band. They always do a great job in getting the crowd worked up. Various influential Scottish organizations made their way up the route including the Scottish-American Foundation and Carnegie Hall.  The FDNY Pipe and Drum Band appointed Ross, a young visitor from Scotland, as an honorary marcher with the group. Young Ross wants to be a fireman when he grows up. Right behind them were another favorite with an assortment of colorful tartans. The Pipes and Drum of Tir na nOg got a loud cheer from the crowd and a salute from the emcee at the reviewing stand on 52nd St.  A group that has marched from the very first parade are the Shamrock and Thistle Pipe and Drum Band from New Jersey.

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Shamrock and Thistle Pipe and Drum Band

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Shelties Stealing Hearts

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One Woman Wrecking Crew

 

     One of the most welcomed groups are always the Westies. Everybody loves it when the dogs bring their owners for a walk up the parade route. Of course some of them wear their best threads for the occasion. Soon after them some Scottish dancers show off  their moves. Of course, the parade always lets its mascot loose. Good old Nessie greeted the crowd. A newer group surprised the revelers when NH Scot Pipes and Drum played with heart and precision. Everyone was impressed with a large group in from Scotland. An award winning North Lanarkshire Schools Pipe Bands showed the crowd why they are number one. A local band from Kearny, NJ always represents what the parade is all about. The Scots American Club Pipe and Drum Band are always impressive. After the parade closes, many marchers head over to 55th Street for an impromptu jam session where they play until they get kicked out.  Rebels to the end. Gotta love it.

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See Ya Next Year

 

 

Rain Can’t Stop Colorful Celebration of Holi In Queens

31 Mar
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Happy Holi

     An overcast day threatened to make the 31st Holi Festival Parade in Richmond Hills, Queens a soggy event. Luckily the heavy rains held off and it was an occasional light shower that sprayed the revelers lined up on Liberty Ave. with a hint of Spring. The Holi festival is one of the oldest festivals still celebrated in India and passed on to the generations of the Hindu-Caribbean community. Richmond Hills is home to the largest concentration of Guyanese and Hindu Trinidadian population in the city. Pre-parade festivities began just before noon at a small stage set up where a dance was performed and a plaque was dedicated to a police detective from the local precinct that made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

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Getting Ready To Spread Some Color

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King and His Lion in Prayer

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Traditional Dancers Having Fun

 

     All the community mandirs as well as local businesses get together for this event and make it a colorful and peaceful event. The United Madrassi float really had a good representation of the event. This is one of the most important festivals in India and celebrates good over evil and celebrates love for one another. It is also a way of kicking away the winter blues and announcing the colors of spring soon to arrive. The parade keeps growing in popularity as there 21 floats this year, the most ever for this young parade. All the marchers and floats make their way to Smokey Park where a stage is set up to continue the day long festival.

Written by: Albert Terc

Photos by: Albert Terc

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See You Next Year..Happy Holi

Over 2 Million Strong Come to 5th Avenue for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

17 Mar
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NYPD Emerald Society Leads the Way

     One of New York City’s oldest traditions continued with a huge crowd of well over two million people lining up the parade route on 5th Avenue for the 258th celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. The honoring of the patron saint of both Ireland and NYC is a way to keep the connection and unity between the people of both nations. People come from all parts of the country for this grand event. This year the parade was held on the 16th for religious observances on the 17th which fell on a Sunday.  The parade has evolved quite a bit since its origin in 1762, where today top High School marching bands across the country come in for the event to showcase their talents. All 32 counties from Ireland send their representatives to march. In this parade, everyone marches. There are no floats or cars. Everyone marches the 2.5 miles up 5th Ave. and stops to greet Archbishop Timothy Dolan in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Revelers call out their counties name like they are checking in at school when their name is called. As it has happened since about 1851, the 69th Regiment, the original “fighting Irish”, lead the parade route with their beloved mascots, a pair of Irish Wolfhounds.

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69th Regiment Officer with Mascot

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Lancers Getting the Parade Started

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Honoring St. Patrick

 

     One of the largest marching bands from Londonderry, New Hampshire was the honorary High School band leading the first group of marchers. They were a great indication of the talent level seen throughout the day. Pipes and drum bands reigned supreme throughout the day with favorites like the NYPD Emerald Society Pipes and Drum band setting the bar way high. The Blue Wall always take care of their own whether here or on the other side. Included as part of the celebration was the family and friends of Detective Steven D. McDonald. It was great to see his family continue to honor his name and message for all to see…Love is the Way.

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Honoring A Special Man

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These Ladies Always Have Fun at the Parade

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FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums

 

     County representatives from Ireland walked up the parade route displaying large tapestries of St. Patrick or another religious symbol. The crowd got a special treat when prize winning Maghery Fife and Drum Band from County Donegal played a beautiful tune. They got a loud cheer from everyone especially one of my favorite group of revelers, the Half Mad McLaughlins from Brooklyn. They always have a great time and are the life of the parade.

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Maghery Band Academy from Donegal

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We Will Never Forget

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Bagpipers Doing Their Thing

 

     A crowd favorite that brings out national pride to everyone present is the FDNY memorial group 343 which represents the number of fireman lost during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The banner now says 343 and counting for all those first responders that keep dying of cancer and other diseases related to the exposure to the toxins in the air. One thing is for sure…. We Will Never Forget. Another High School Band that stepped up their game was Jefferson Davis from Alabama. For a small group, they packed a big punch. It was the first time in the Big Apple for many of these high school students and what a way to be in the mix of one of the biggest parades in the city.  If this is any indication of the 2019 parades season, it’s going to be an amazing year.  But at least for one day out of the year, we are all Irish.

Written by: Albert Terc

Photos by: Albert Terc

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Eirinn go Brach!!!

 

Dragons Fire Up the Lunar New Year Parade In Chinatown

18 Feb
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Double Dragons Lead the Way

      The grand finale of the 15 day Lunar New Year celebration was well under way on Mott St. in the heart of Chinatown. A stage was set up on Hester and Mott Sts. to proclaim the importance of the holiday to VIPs, politicians, and dignitaries. US Senator Chuck Schumer , US Representative Nydia Velazquez and NY State Senator John Liu were among those present to help celebrate the occasion.  Parade founder, Steven Tin, of Better Chinatown, did a great job in keeping the pre-parade festivities going. The most anticipated part is when lettuce heads are dangled from long wooden poles and the dancing lions shred the leaves and toss them to the crowd for prosperity.  It was a great tradition to see well and alive in Chinatown.

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Dancing Lions Greeting the Crowd

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Staten Island Lions Leading the Way

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Dragon Leader Weaving His Way

     As usual the mounted police signals the start of the parade with the NYPD marching band shortly behind. For some reason there were more dragons than in previous years and the crowd just loved it. A perennial favorite, Staten Island Lions, brought their dancing lions and got the crowd worked up for a day of fun and tradition. The all-female drum band, Fogo Azul, really had a great time. One of the largest groups, World Journal, is known for their huge double dragons was making their way up the parade route.

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Tilted Dragon Going For A Spin

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Prosperity Is In Your Future

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Buddha Leading the Lion

     Local community groups with  colorful costumes and artistic work made their way up the parade route. Families with children from China and the DeSoto Public school had great costumes and kids enjoying the passing of tradition. It was a successful parade with big crowds and lots of dragons and dancing lions. Marchers ended the parade at Roosevelt Park where more events kept the festivities going. The parade celebrated its 20th year and keeps growing each year. Once the parade was over, I made my way to my to Wo Hop, my favorite restaurant on Mott St.

Written by: Albert Terc

Photos by: Albert Terc

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Freezing Winds Can’t Stop the Lunar New Year Festival in Flushing

10 Feb
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Double Dragons from World Journal

     The most important of all Chinese festivals occurs over 15 days and coincides with the new moon between January 21 and February 20 each year. The Lunar New Year is celebrated by over 1 billion people worldwide including one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in New York, Flushing, Queens. Chinese astrology designates 2019 as the Year of the Pig. Even with the frigid weather and stiff wind, the parade route along Main St. was filled with revelers looking to rub the dragons head for good luck.

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Dancing Lions Getting Ready to Greet the Crowd

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Koreans in Traditional Attire

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Dancing Lions

 

     As usual the mounted police signals the start of the parade soon followed by the NYPD marching band. Parade dignitaries and VIPs made their way to the reviewing stand near the Queens Public Library on Main St. A diverse group from the Asian community including Koreans, Taiwanese, Malaysians made their way down the parade route.  The lead group this year were the Koreans with their traditional attire and marchers with cymbals and drums. One of the larger groups, World Journal, a Chinese media company, with their famous double dragons are always a fan favorite.

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Falun Dafa Marching Band

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Vessels of Love

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Dragon Bringing Good Luck

 

     The anchor of the parade, Falun Dafa, is always the largest group with marching bands and great costumes. Falun Dafa has been banned from China for it’s spiritual beliefs and willingness to seek the truth through reporting. A respected media group, Epoch Times, always has a large representation at the parade. Their aim is to report what China seeks to suppress. If I were writing about this event in China, it would have to be edited by the Central Government and may never be published. Our freedom should never be taken for granted.  Once the parade is over, a firecracker festival takes place near an upscale mall, Queens Crossing. One of the best things about neighborhood parades is all the excellent dining choices available. A short walk to Prince St. is must do whenever you are in the area. Happy New Year!!

Written by: Albert Terc

Photos by: Albert Terc

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Happy Year of the Pig!!!

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