Tag Archives: NYC

Love Wins At the Biggest Pride Parade in NYC

25 Jun

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     The month long tribute to Pride ended with the largest parade the city has seen to date.  With close to 2 million loud people lining the new parade route, it was sure to be one of the best parades so far and that it was.  As a test run to next years big 50th anniversary of Stonewall and already labeled as WorldPride, the new parade route started on 16th St. and 7th Avenue and worked its way down to Christopher St. over to 8th St. and turned up 5th Avenue. It was in reverse direction than in previous years. It seemed to worked although there were a few lags here and there but that’s to be expected with well over 100 floats making its way to the parade. Pride has by far the largest corporate sponsorship of any parade with all affirming their Pride with the marchers and revelers. The first weekend of summer was typically hot and brought out the biggest parade crowd.  Usually the mounted police signal the start of the parade, but come noon time the Sirens MC revved up their motorcycles and got the crowd worked up for a day of love.

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Love Wins

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Stonewall Inn

 

Grand Marshall tennis legend and activist Billie Jean King waved to the adoring crowd. Soon after were fellow Grand Marshalls Kenita Placide , and Tyler Ford. Lambda Legal had a large group bringing awareness to legal issues to the LGBT community. A favorite part of the parade is when the original Stonewall Veterans wave to the crowd. The parade route has always passed by the Stonewall Inn where riots broke out on June 28, 1969 and is considered to be the start of the Gay Rights Movement. I did have to look across the street from the Stonewall just to make sure the flag was raised high, even though your Federal government attempted to disown the flag down just days before the biggest event celebrating Pride.

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Taking Pride In Flight

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Flag From Orlando

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Showing Their Pride

 

Once the parade VIPs and local politicians greeted the crowd, that’s when the fun started. Marchers displayed some of their best outfits and makeup and plenty of love and pride to go with it. A perennial favorite is the Delta float and crowd. Aside from the lovely attendants that get the crowd worked up, they also displayed one of the largest handmade rainbow flags of the parade. The flag was created shortly after the Orlando massacre at Pulse nightclub in 2016 and was proudly displayed by a group of about 50 people.

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Pumping Out Some Good Tunes

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Flaggots Turning It Out

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Spinners Having Fun

 

There was more solidarity with law enforcement than in previous years. The relationship between the police and the LGBT community has always been contentious but this year, NYPD and FDNY sent their representatives to the parade. Even the FBI sent a small group to show their Pride. With over 100 floats and corporate sponsors, there was plenty to cheer about. With every corner of the world celebrating their Pride, the international section was having a great time. Of course a parade just isn’t a parade without a marching band and the highlighted band every year is the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band. They always do it the right way. Not too far behind them were the crowd favorite Flaggots showing off their moves. They were so good I had to show their moves off twice.

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Love wins over and over again. With as much hate that has been spewed from the top down, it’s even more important now than ever for all people to unite and join in this special day filled with Pride. I walked away from this parade proud to be New Yorker and a little deaf with all the loud music and screaming but it was the most fun of any parade so far.  And if you think this was a fun parade, wait until next year’s for WorldPride.   The BIG 50!!!

 

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SEE YA NEXT YEAR FOR PRIDEWORLD!!

 

New Balloons Steal the Show At The Thanksgiving Day Parade

24 Nov
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Olaf Greeting the Crowd

     The tell tale signs that Winter is coming was seen in the faces of the well over 2 million people lined up for the greatest parade in NYC. Frosty temperatures couldn’t stop the crowd visiting from all over the globe to see great marching bands, the famous large balloons, celebrities and hundreds of clowns. The 91st annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade starts on the upper West Side and makes its way down 6th Ave. towards Herald Square in front of Macy’s where the parade is broadcast to millions all across the world. It’s a grand finale to a year of some great parades in the City. With extra security in place, parade revelers felt relieved with the visible presence.  This year the honorary lead band was from Prairie View A&M Marching Storm. They got things started with blaring brass sections and precision marching. They really got the crowd worked up for what would be a morning of gratitude and fun for kids from 5 to 95.

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Gulfport In The House

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Super Wings Jett Ready to Take Off

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Chase the Happy Pooch

 

     There were plenty of celebrities to perform and wave to the adoring crowd including legendary music icons Patti LaBelle and Smokey Robinson. The parade showcases some of the top marching bands in the country. A nice treat was the Nations Ford HS MB from Fort Mill, South Carolina. Everyone stared in amazement at the huge balloons that are as big as houses.  Sending a reminder to everyone of the chilly temperature was Olaf, a huge balloon from a character in the blockbuster hit Frozen. The regular balloon participants made their way along the 2.5 mile parade route. Ronald McDonald, the Red Power Ranger and Charlie Brown are among the tallest balloons ranging up to 50 feet tall and need about 90 handlers to make sure the huge balloons don’t wander off into the crowd.  Another marching band from Trumbull CT, the Golden Eagles soared with high notes and precision.  A really friendly band came up from West Harrison HS Gulfport, MS. They had a fun time and brought their Southern hospitality with them. The Ohio University MB had a great drum line that really got the crowd worked up.

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Patti LaBelle Having Fun with the Crowd

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Patriotic Clowns

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Spongebob Squarepants and his Clowns

 

     The parade has the largest collection of clowns on the planet. They all greeted the crowd with  joyful exuberance especially the kids that were being thrilled with the spectacle that only Macy’s can create. Once the huge Elf On the Shelf balloon appeared that was everyone’s clue that the grand finale was about to happen. Everyone looks forward to Rudolph and Co. hauling a sled with the one and only Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus waving to the crowd. The kids and adults all loved it.

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NYPD Marching Band Enjoying Their Turn

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Grinch Looking For Trouble

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Santa and Mrs. Claus with Rudolph Leading the Way

 

     There was plenty to be thankful this year. Thanks to all the parade organizers for continuing their traditions and passing it on to the next generation. Thanks to all the marchers that created great costumes and banners. Thanks to all the marching bands that rehearsed for endless hours to get the song and march right for us to enjoy. Thanks to all the NYPD and FDNY and Sanitation that helped keep us safe and ready for emergencies and clean up after the festive events. And thank you the reader and viewer for helping keep this blog going.

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It Really Is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

 

Mexicans Celebrate Cinco on 5th Ave. in Brooklyn

7 May
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Folkloric Dancers

     The overcast day made Cinco de Mayo feel more like Cinco de Marzo. The chilly weather didn’t stop the first Cinco de Mayo parade on 5th Ave. in Sunset Park, Brooklyn from marching on. Local neighborhood parades can be just as much fun as the bigger parades in the city. Kicking off the parade were sponsors and local politicians including NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca, who was vital in organizing the event. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the famous battle in the town of Pueblo where General Ignacio Zaragoza led a small army to repel the invading French troops. Even though it was not a major part of the war, it did gain support and confidence among Mexicans to defend their land.

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Danza de Tecuanes costumer

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Happy Cinco

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Chinelos Dancing It up

 

     Lead groups included parade queens and traditional folkloric dancing with colorful dresses. The first of several costumed groups made their way up the parade route from 60th St. to Sunset Park.  Danza de Tecuanes from San Rafael made their appearance with the traditional costumed jaguar being tricked by farmers. They were pretty good and brought back Mexican agricultural tradition to Sunset Park.  Closing out the parade were the crowd favorite and energetic chinelos.  The crowd gathered for more fun and celebration in Sunset Park.  One of the best things about neighborhood parades is the variety of restaurants available. I had to stop by Tacos Los Poblanos for a quick spicy chicken taco. Well worth it.

Blooming Bright Bonnets Abound at the Easter Parade on 5th Ave.

17 Apr

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     The unusually warm weather brought out a huge crowd this year for an original New York City tradition, the Easter parade. Since the Gilded Age of the 1880s, New Yorkers have dressed up to the nines and casually walked up 5th Ave. with the latest fashions. Today, the tradition has evolved into a combination of well dressed celebrants and creative expressions of bonnets and top hats. The blocks from 49th St. to 55th St. are blocked off where street entertainers and music fill the air on a day of celebration. New Yorkers from 3 to 93 or more continue to show some of the best creativity in the country. Some pets enjoy bringing their owners to the parade so they can show off how cute they can look. If you have never been to this parade, it is one of the most colorful and creative you will experience. Hope you enjoy the photos as much as I had taking them.

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Scots Turn 6th Ave Into a Tartan Panorama

9 Apr

 

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Colorful Tartans on Display

     The culmination of a week long celebration of Scottish contribution to American culture and the passing on of tradition ends with the Tartan Parade up 6th Ave. In a glorious display of Scottish pride and colorful tartans, this young parade is gaining more popularity. In it’s 19th year, the Tartan Parade is well known for having one the largest displays of bagpipe bands from the Tri-State region, Scotland and Canada. The sun soaked day gave the marchers and viewers a hint of the nice spring weather soon arriving. As usual, the mounted police gave the signal for the parade to start.  The honorary opening pipe and drum marching band were the US Cadets from West Point, NY.  They were pretty good and warmed up the crowd for what would be an amazing show of Scottish culture and tradition.  This years Grand Marshall, Tommy Flanagan, of Sons of Anarchy fame, greeted the crowd and took his place to review the festivities on a large tour bus on 56th St.

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Grand Marshall Tommy Flanagan

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Start of the Tartan Parade

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Shamrock & Thistle make their mark

     One of the pipe bands to kick off the day of celebration were the NY Caledonian Club Pipe Band. They were impressive. Soon after them were the NY Metro Pipe Band straight out of Brooklyn. A perennial favorite is the Shamrock & Thistle Pipe and Drums Band from Ocean County NJ. Their colorful yellow and black tartans always sets them apart from the crowd. Besides they can really play. One of the best things about this parade is the invited bands that come in from Scotland. This year Oban HS Scotland band made their country proud. A crowd favorite has always been the display of Scottish and West Highland Terriers. The dogs always bring their owners to the parade so they can show off their Scottish pride. A pleasant surprise was the Middlesex County, NJ Police Pipes and Drum Band. As usual, the lamest interpretation of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, made an appearance. Really, they should give it a rest. This year, the parade organizers saved the best for last with special guests from Scotland. St. Columba’s School Kilmalcolm made quite an impression both during and after the parade. In keeping with tradition, pipe and drum bands get together for a spontaneous jam right on 56th St. They play until the police kick them out. This year, there was a fun drum battle and a version of Amazing Grace that was a joy to capture. The Tartan parade was truly a fun parade and the Scottish hearts had plenty to be happy about.

 

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See Ya Next Year

Greek Independence Turns 5th Ave. Blue

27 Mar
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Greek Presidential Guard, Evzones

The threat of rain didn’t put a damper on the spirits of thousands of Greeks lining the parade route on 5th Avenue and waving their blue and white flags in celebration of their 196th year of Independence.  This parade claims to be the largest celebration outside of Greece and is televised both locally and internationally to millions of viewers back in the homeland of Greece.  A stage and grandstand on 68th St. were set for parade VIPs, Grand Marshalls and Archbishop Demetrios, leader of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.  Parade founders, The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, have been doing a great job for the last 79 years in organizing the many groups and churches in putting on a joyful event.  As always, the mounted police signal the start of the parade soon followed by parade VIPs, Mayor DiBlasio, NY Senator Schumer and Grand Marshall Ivan Savvidis and Dr. George Yancopoulos.  One of the perennial favorites is the Greek Presidential Guard, Evzones, marching with their distinctive uniforms and high step march.

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Senator Schumer, Archbishop Demetrios and Mayor DiBlasio

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Traditional Costumers

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Celebrating Tradition

     Traditional costumes was displayed by the Greek American Folklore Society. Greeks are a very religious people and many Greek Orthodox Churches in the Tri-State area send their representatives to the parade. Many Greek regional groups including Cyprians and Cretians had a large presence and were very boastful. Of course, it’s not a parade unless there’s a marching band. The All-City marching Band was one of the first bands to make their way on to the parade route. It’s always great to see members of St. Nicholas Church, a small church directly on Ground Zero that remained intact.  A new group that made a nice impression was Eponoah with traditional costumes and music. They were soon followed by another perennial favorite, the Plato School Marching Band from Brooklyn. They’re always fun to watch. Back on the main stage, a young group of traditional dancers showed off their moves to the delight of the viewers.  This was a fun parade to watch and had to make my way to Uncle Nick’s Greek Cuisine on 29th and 8th Ave for some delicious Greek food.

Warm Irish Brew Melts the Ice at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

18 Mar

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     Just a few days after a messy mid-March Noreaster dumped ice and snow on the streets of New York City, 5th Avenue was changed into a sea of green. Over a million people came out to celebrate the 255th version of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  There’s always been a strong bond between Ireland and New York City. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and also the patron saint of the archdiocese of New York City where millions of Catholics call home. The parade helps bring unity between the people of Ireland and New York. Each county in Ireland is represented with their proud tribute to St. Patrick by raising their banners high. As usual in these large parades, the NYPD Mounted Guard signaled the start of the parade. The crowd was getting worked up on a chilly morning in anticipation for a fun-filled day.  They were not let down as the traditional show of force kicked off the parade with the true Fighting Irish, the Army 69th Regiment,  marching up 5th Ave.  Soon after, parade Grand Marshall Michael J Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health, made his appearance. This marks the first time a hospital head served as the Grand Marshall of this historic parade. Glad to see he is in good health because in this parade everyone marches. There are no floats or cars. Just plenty of pipe and drum bands and marching bands celebrating an important event in NYC. As a display of unity, the NYPD Emerald Society Pipes and Drum Band got things started. They were great. That section had both NYPD and Garda Siochana (Guardians of the Peace of Ireland) marching together.

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     Each county in Ireland sends their representatives to march in the parade. This year Donegal started things off. A family that always goes to the parade, the half-mad McLaughlin’s from Brooklyn always whoop it up when they see their county march up 5th Ave. They are a blast to hang with even if it’s for a few minutes. Next to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has some of the best marching bands from all over the country on display. The first to make their way were the Vikings from Vernon NJ. They were really good. Right behind them came the Air Force Junior ROTC from Randolph-Macon in Virginia. They displayed all 50 state flags. The hits kept coming when the Stratford CT HS Marching Band showed their drum line skills. Impressive.

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     The parade has always had an international appeal to it and this year the Badad de Lorient from Brittany France really got the crowd worked up. They were mixed in with the Spanish section. This is the 6th year the Asturia section sends their Spanish bagpipe band. They were excellent. Not to be outdone were the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drum Band. They always put on a great show and warm the hearts of many Irish. One part of the parade that always hits home is when the 343 group march. These are firefighters that carry 343 US flags representing the number of firefighters that made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11. It really is an amazing and patriotic sight to see. They were followed by family members of lost ones carrying photos of their loved ones.

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     Two of the better marching bands are perennial favorites. They have the best uniforms and can really play well. The first was the Highlander Band from West Milford NJ with a mashup of both traditional marching band music and bagpipes. Great job. A yearly favorite came down from Londonderry New Hampshire. They were fired up for the parade. Pipe and drum bands from both Suffolk and Nassau Counties in Long Island did a great job.  The Golden Eagles Marching Band from Ohio and Desoto Central HS Marching Band from Mississippi were having lots of fun at the parade. They made their schools proud. If this is any indication of how the 2017 parade season will be, it will surely be a memorable year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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