Tag Archives: NYC

Pretty Polleras and Bugles Blast on Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn

14 Oct
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Panama Prep School Band Taking Charge

     Neighborhood parades can be a great way to get a sense of that area. Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn is home to a very large Panamanian population. The parade boasts of being the largest Panamanian Independence Day in North America. People travel from Maryland, Texas, Florida and of course from Panama to be part of the spectacular event.  Around noon time on Saturday, a group of motorcycles riders, displaying the Panamanian flag, let everyone know the parade was soon to start.  Parade VIPs and organizers made their way up the parade route on Franklin Ave. and turned on Carroll St. where a stage was set up to review the many marching bands that came up from Panama. Prizes were awarded at the end of the parade for the best band.

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Pollera, traditional dress of Panama

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Marching Band Leads the Way

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Colegio San Martin de Porres

     These same bands participated in the Hispanic Day Parade on 5th Avenue the following day. Beauty queens waved to the adoring crowd. They were followed by some fun folkloric dancing and women dressed in traditional polleras. It’s great to see the tradition passed on from one generation to another. The best part of the parade is when the marching bands from Panama come up the parade route. They have the best uniforms for marching bands this year. First up were the musical band Instituto Fermin Naudeau with their military uniforms. They got the crowd worked up for the next band in line, the Panama Prep School Band. This band ended up winning first prize at the event for best band. A perennial favorite is the Colegio San Martin de Porres musical band.

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Beauty Queen Miss New York

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 Drum and Bugle Corp. International Bands

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Getting Ready for the Grand Finale

    Not too far behind were the Guillermo Endara Galimany musical band. They were having some fun with the crowd. The last of Panamanian student group was the Musical Band Mons. Audilio Aguilar. Local bands close out the festive parade with the First Panamanian Drums and Bugle Corp making some noise. Saving the best for last, the United Panamanian Veterans Marching Band always closes the parade out with a bang. Once they pass by the reviewing stand, everyone heads over to the festival where a stage is set up for more entertainment and food kiosks with some delicious Panamanian food. This is one of the best neighborhood parades in the city.

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IMG_6153 Que Viva Panama!!!

 

 

Thousands of Polish People Celebrate Gen. Pulaski on 5th Avenue

7 Oct
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Let the Parade Begin

    A long standing parade tradition in early October is the celebration of Revolutionary hero General Casimir Pulaski. Hundreds of thousands of Polish people from the Tri-State area gather on 5th Avenue to celebrate all things Polish. The parade route was a sea of red and white flags. Now in its 82nd year, the Pulaski Day Parade is the largest of its kind on the East Coast. It coincides with the death of the War Hero at the Siege of Savannah in 1779. Pre-parade festivities took place right in front of the NY Public Library where there were stages and reviewing stands set up for the remarkable occasion.

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Traditional Dancers Start Up the Parade

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Royal Waltz with Senator Schumer

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Polish Marching Band Having Fun

     Before all the fun starts, there is a traditional breaking of the bread with wine and salt on the trays. The Bread is symbolic for never going hungry while the wine is present so that one may never go thirsty and salt for life’s tears….may they always be happy ones. There was a traditional Royal Waltz performed with special guest US Senator from NY Chuck Schumer taking part of the good times. Senator Schumer has been instrumental in pushing for the visa waiver program to include Poland since 2013. President Trump approved Poland’s entry to the program just recently. Poland is one of America’s best allies and certainly deserves the exception. A marching band from Poland played both national anthems and then the fun started.

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Saluting the General

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Bikers Making Some Noise

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Polka Dancers Have a Go At It

     Groups from all parts of the Tri-state area marched in red and white. They danced to polkas and more modern music. One of the favorite parts of the parade is when a few hundred motorcycles ride up 5th Avenue while making thunderous sounds. Groups representing Connecticut marched with lots of joy and pride. One of the largest groups is from Greenpoint in Queens that is home to a large Polish population. New Jersey sent some of the largest groups to be part of the festive day. It really is a fun parade with lots of happy faces in the crowd.

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Polska na zawsze!!!!

Wet and Wild Times at the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn

3 Sep

 

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It’s Carnival Time….

     Torrential rains at the start of the 52nd annual New York Carnival Parade couldn’t damper the moods of thousands of marchers, masqueraders and revelers that came to experience one of New York’s largest parades.  Labor Day in New York is celebrated in grand style with a magnificent display of Caribbean culture in music, dance, food and mass celebration. People come from all parts of the country and the Caribbean islands just to be a part of the spectacular event. Since the real Carnival is held in mid winter, it’s too cold in NYC for any type of outdoor celebration, so the parade founders organized a fashion show and parade similar to the traditional event from the islands to be held on Labor Day.

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Blank Ink Crew Float Getting Fired Up

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Fly Having Some Fun

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Amazing Caribbean Cultural Display 

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Always Brings Her A Game

     As soon as I turned on Eastern Parkway and Washington St. the aromatic foods were drawing me in to see what was cooking. Big trays of curried goat and chicken, oxtails, rice and peas and whole host of other Caribbean food selections were available from kiosk to kiosk. The rain started picking up towards the start of the parade where the NYPD Brass Band got the sparse crowd into the festive mood with a nice upbeat tune. A parade of flags from the island nations and Canada got things started. Then the heavy rains started and everyone ran for cover. About a half hour later, the rain subsided and the first of many floats arrived to the cheer of many in the crowd. The cast from the popular TV series Black Ink Crew got the party started with a hard banging float.

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     Huge tractor trailers with monster speakers pumped out some favorite tunes for masqueraders to dance to along the 2 mile parade route on Eastern Parkway. They make their way passed Washington St, in front of the Brooklyn Museum where a number of judges review the groups presentation. It’s always a fun time to see which group brings the most energy and gets the nod from the judges. The beautiful 4 Seasons group had an impressive presentation. They were soon followed by the fierce group Stronjeh. This large group was well prepared for their presentation. A perennial favorite, Ramajay Mas, announced this would be their final year at the Parade. All the masqueraders from Ramajay gave it their all. It was amazing to see. Several dancers left in tears knowing this was their last dance. Ramajay Mas has always set the bar for excellence in presentation at the West Indian Day Parade. They will be missed.  Radio station WBLS promoted youth in a high energy display of a well choreographed African themed presentation.

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A convoy of tractor trailers kept growing as the rain left and the sun came back out along with the heat the West Indian community brings to any party. The Haitians had one of the largest crowds following their truck. Bajan Paradise got the crowd to raise their flags all up and down the Parkway. It really is one of the best parades in the city.  See ya next year.

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Indians Celebrate Independence With A Bang

20 Aug
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Jallosh Getting the Parade Started

     Labeled as the largest Independence Day celebration outside of India, the 73rd annual parade kicked off this past Sunday to thousands of revelers on Madison Avenue. The parade route was getting filled up especially around the staging area near 27th Street where VIP guests Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty and others settled in to watch the amazing display of colors and love of country and tradition. As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade.

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     After parade sponsors, including the NBA, Dunkin Donuts and parade founders Federation of Indian Associations made their way down the parade route, the thunderous drum sounds of the perennial favorites Jallosh could be heard from blocks away. As always they got the crowd worked up for what would be a most festive day. They did have some competition from another drum group that played with high energy. This years theme served to honor those that served in India’s military. There were a few minor protesters over the recent conflict in Kashmir but it did not interfere with events celebration.  India has always had deep rooted spiritual beliefs and was on display with many groups invoking peace and mindfulness, compassion and caring for one another.

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     Indian businesses have thrived in NYC and continue to grow in every field especially in tech and engineering and architecture. Various floats touted their successes but one that stood out with some high energy dancers were the Bambino Express float. This year’s parade proudly displayed the traditions and vibrant cultures of India in celebration of their Independence from Great Britain.

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Dominicans Bring Fire to the Streets of 6th Ave.

13 Aug
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Lechones Whipping Up the Crowd

     The dog days of summer usually bring some of the hottest days the city has seen. That heat was surpassed when the Dominicans took over 6th Avenue and brought their  fast paced merengue music blasted over some amazing custom designed cars and  SUVs. This is the 37th year the parade celebrates all things Dominican with hundreds of thousands happy revelers. As usual with most parades, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade. Parade organizers led the way with invited guests and politicians. Congressman Adriano Espaillat, of NY’s 13th Congressional district that serves many Dominicans living in upper Manhattan and the Bronx. He was joined by the top law official of NYS, Attorney General Leticia James. Once all the politicians made their way up the parade route, then the fun began.

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Congressman Espaillat and NY AG Leticia James

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Charytin and her twins

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Merengue Superstar Tono Rosario

 

     One of the most revered entertainers from the Dominican Republic made her way up the parade route to the delight of screaming fans. Charytin has been in entertainment for over 30 years and has over 18 albums to her name. The Madrina (godmother) of the parade was joined on the float with her children, twins Shalim and Sharina. Soon after the Grand Marshall of the parade, merengue singer Tono Rosario made his way up the parade route singing some of his top hits. There were plenty of really good dancers but the Dragon Master Dancers stood out. Some of the better floats were the Goya float that really got the crowd worked up. A popular Spanish language radio station X96.3 had some good singers. The Goals float had some singers but not many people were really paying attention to them for some reason.

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     The highlights of the parade are when the Lechones of Santiago and the Diablo Cojuelo arrive to whip up the crowd…literally. The lechones are a simple costume that resembles either a pig or a duck. The Diablo Cojuelo is a mythical creature that uses a whip to keep people in line or whip other diablos. There were a few Roba La Gallina (steal the chicken) characters present. The character dresses up like a busty woman and goes around the village stealing chickens and placing them down their bra or hips. They really got the crowd worked up. In the Dominican Republic, these characters are usually seen during Carnival time. All in all, it was a fun parade with lots of music and dancing. See ya next year.

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World Pride In NY for 50th Anniversary of Stonewall Brings Millions to Celebrate

2 Jul
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50 Years and Getting Stronger

     The anticipation for the 50th Pride celebration began at the end last years parade. For the first time World Pride participated in the annual show of love, community, advocacy and protest.  This was the largest and longest parade I have been to and I have attended over 100 in NYC and other cities. The NYPD estimates over 3 million people attended one of the largest celebrations in the country all in the name of peace and love. There were zero arrests. Everyone was there to yell and scream and have a heck of a party. And that it was.

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Grand Marshall Lay Phyll Getting the Love

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The First Warriors

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Glam Girls Living It Up

     Hundreds of floats made their way down the parade starting on 26th Street and 5th Avenue and then making its way to the Stonewall Inn and back up 7th Avenue to 26th Streets. The thunder of Dykes on Bikes got the crowd ready for a spectacular day.  People yelling and screaming continued when one of the Grand Marshals, the original members of the Gay Liberation Front, marched with plenty to be happy for. I’m pretty sure they had no idea what their effort and sacrifice would evolve into back then. 50 years later the celebration rocked NY. It was definitely the event of a lifetime for many. Grand Marshall Lady Phyll, founder of UK Black Pride, was really feeling the love from the crowd.

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Australian Pride

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Vanessa Working the Crowd

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Venezuela In the House

     All kinds of costumes and plenty of swag were on display for a 9 hour marathon of a parade. World Pride organized thousands of marchers from all around the globe. Many European countries started the display of the LBGT community with some amazing outfits. Later on the Asian community brought their charm and energy to get the crowd worked up. Middle Eastern countries got into the mix with some lively floats. African and West Indian countries brought the heat. South Americans represented very well. Just about every corner of the world was represented. Here in NY, they came express their love with who they wish to without fear of persecution from their own country.

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England Makes Some Noise

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Proud For Everyone To See

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Enough Said

     Of course a parade just isn’t a parade without  A perennial favorite is the hometown band, The Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corp, had a lot of fun playing to the crowd.  Fresh off their Mermaid Parade big performance, The Tail Shakers kicked it up a notch for the grand event. Accompanying the display of images of fallen icons were the high powered rhythmic all female drum band, Fogo Azul. They gave a beautiful performance and the best I have seen them do. Commercial sponsors were in abundance but the one that really got the crowd worked up was the MAC float. Celebrities Vanessa Williams and Wendy Williams were enjoying the amazing display of love and good vibes from the crowd. There was plenty of glam on display. Everyone was loving it and couldn’t get enough. This was THE parade of the year so far. I’m so proud to be a NYer and know my hometown can pull off an event of this magnitude in grand style. Love is Love.

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See Ya Later

 

 

Sea Creatures Flock to Coney Island For the Wild Mermaid Parade

23 Jun
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Siren Star Eline Powell leads Float With Happy Mermaids

     Every culture celebrates the summer solstice in different ways. New Yorkers shut down Surf Ave. in Coney Island, Brooklyn for one of the largest art displays related to all things from the ocean. People come from all parts of the country to be part of the annual tradition. There were thousands of creative costumes with strategically placed seashells all around. The Mermaid Parade is in its second version and pays homage to Vaudeville, burlesque, and all things related to fascination of the travelling circus. Hundreds of thousands of viewers stepped right up to see one of the greatest shows in Coney Island.

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Founder Dick Zigun Starts Off the Parade

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WKTU Radio DeeJays Lulu and Lala

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Charm City Tail Star Having Fun

     A reviewing stand was set up across from MCU Park, a minor league baseball stadium, where easily corruptible judges weighed in on who would get top prize for the most creative costumes. Parade founder Dick Zigun raised a large key to Coney Island to open the parade. He announced this was the largest Mermaid Parade ever. Congrats, Dick. Coney Island born American icon Arlo Guthrie and wife Nora were this years King Neptune and Queen Mermaid. Then the fun really started with thousands of wild costumes and marching bands setting up a fun filled day. Kicking things off were the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corp Marching Band. They were warming up for the big 50th parade celebrating Pride next week.  Of course, there is always a social message in these parades. The New Green Deal Mermaids were out in full force giving warnings of what could possibly happen if rapid changes don’t occur.

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Dressed For the Occasion

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Jakobee As an Axolotl

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Stunning Angel Fish

     It’s hard to say which bands and dancers were having the most fun. The Hungry March Band helped save a marcher that nearly passed out from exhaustion. The Tail Shakers had their dance routine on point. Thunderous booms were coming from the all female marching band Fogo Azul sporting their pink flamingo attire. A perennial favorite ,Charm City Tails, come from Baltimore each year with an original dance routine. Right behind them were the Big Apple Babes showing how it’s done. New to the parade were the Baltimore Highsteppers. Closing out the parade is a crowd favorite. The Rockaway Mermaid Brigade had a zodiac theme float and the crowd just loved it.

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     This is the wildest parade of the year so far. It is one of the largest art parades of the country and a chance for NYers and visitors to show off their amazing creativity. Have a fun and safe summer.

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See Ya Next Year

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