Tag Archives: Parades

Harlem Hosts a Hip Hop Happy Parade

18 Sep
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Uniondale Marchers Having Fun

     The second leg of the big weekend parades went down up in Harlem this past Sunday. In a sharp contrast to the polite Steuben parade of Saturday, the 49th annual African American Day parade was boisterous with both marchers and revelers screaming with joy, love and happiness. Billed as the largest parade of its kind in the country, the African American parade displays lots of pride and enthusiasm for all the contributions made to the nation and to the great city of New York. Crowds were filling up along the parade route on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. from 111th St. up to 135th St. The warm weather brought out close to 1 million people waiting to cheer on the marchers that came in from all parts of the country.

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A Call to Start Something New

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Positive Messages to Take Home

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Calling all Marchers

 

     In the shadows of the world famous Apollo Theater on 125th St. and in front of the Adam Clayton Powell statue, a reviewing stand is set up for announcers to introduce the many hundreds of groups participating in the grand event. Local hip hop and R&B radio stations also simulcast the event to all their local and worldwide listeners. As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade. Parade dignitaries and VIPs made their way to the reviewing stand in what would be an amazing day of celebration. This parade has always been a platform to educate and raise awareness of issues affecting the community. Marchers were eager to engage with people about issues like ending the school to prison stream and a call to end police violence and killing of unarmed minority citizens. There were many groups calling of the community to get out and exercise no matter what your age. It really is a great day for community for all those present.

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Powerful Messages

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Mayor Dinkins and Charles Rangel

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Drummers Giving Their All

 

     Many floats passed by blaring old school and the latest hip hop hits. It was one big party. A more traditional marching unit came up from Baltimore in the Christian Warriors. They always put on a good show and the drummers were on fire. Of course a parade isn’t a parade without a marching band and Uniondale HS from Long Island, NY did a great job. Dancing groups came to show off their best moves. The Marching Cobras got things started with their stylish moves. One of the best dance groups were the Sugar Babies. They had female dancers break out moves that had them standing on their head. Amazing.

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Cobras Showing Some Swag

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Deltas Steal the Show

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Sugar Babes…Indeed

 

     The fraternity and sorority houses represented very well and had the most fun of all the groups. The last part of the parade always features the steppers from Baltimore showing off their swag. Perennial favorite Mass Destruction got things started with their high energy dancing. A new crew showed off some nice moves in the Epic Premier Marching Unit. They were soon followed by a really fun group. The Dynasty Marching Unit showed off some really good moves and gave the crowd a treat. In this case, the best was saved for last when the Baltimore All-Stars tore it up and sent the crowd home happy.  This really is a great parade to attend and if you haven’t seen it…add it to your bucket list. It’s a must see.

 

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See Ya Next Year

 

Germans All Smiles at the Steuben on 5th Avenue

17 Sep

 

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Happy Times at the Steuben

     The first leg of the big dual parade weekend started with one of the most polite parades of the year. German Americans from the tri state area came out in droves to cheer on their compatriots visiting from all parts of Germany for a grand celebration of German culture and contribution to the fabric of NYC. The 61st annual Steuben parade honors the Revolutionary War General Baron von Steuben but it has transformed into a show of unity of German Americans and folks from the Motherland. The large crowd along the 5th Ave. parade route was getting anxious to see the lead marching band perform. This parade rolls out the red carpet literally at the reviewing stand by 78th St. where parade dignitaries and VIPs take in some of the many talented marchers and bands.

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     As usual, the mounted police signal the start of the parade with the lead band stopping by the reviewing stand to play both countries national anthems. Then the fun begins with the lead band playing a popular marching band tune. As a show of unity, both German and NY firefighters get together for a march. One of the best things about the Steuben are marching bands come in from Germany and play some fine marching tunes. One of the better ones with great costumes from another era was the group from Dinkelsbuhl. They were soon followed by a really fun band called Musikverein Schienen. There were some great costumes celebrating the German version of Karneval.   Various regions near Germany come out in celebration as well. Austrians, Bavarians and even a really cool Swiss Band rocked out. They were fun.

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     Perennial favorites Long Island Volkswagon Club drove their Beetles up the parade route. The doberman dogs brought their owners with them so they can show off their attitude. Beer floats always make the most noise and their patrons can’t wait to get to the Oktoberfest celebration in Central Park after the parade.  It really is a fun parade, polite, but lots of fun.

Beer and Brats anyone?!!

Puerto Ricans Turn Celebration Into Remembrance

11 Jun
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Mourning Those Lost After Hurricane Maria

      The parade route along 5th Avenue was getting louder as the 61st annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade was due to kick off around 11am. This is one of the largest and loudest parades the city offers with marchers coming in from all around the country and groups coming in from the island of Puerto Rico as a show of unity. Many signs along the parade route were a reminder of the devastation Hurricane Maria inflicted on the island. The more popular ones were Puerto Rico Se Levanta (Puerto Rico will Rise) and signs with the numbers 4,645+, an estimate of the total death count from September 20 through December 31, 2017, as conducted by a recent study from Harvard University. This figure has turned into a rallying cry as another example of the disparity of what has been reported by the Federal response, which is 64 deaths, and what is actually happening on the island.  New York Representative Nydia Velazquez has called on Congress to create an independent commission to investigate the true mortality rate and hurricane responsiveness and preparation so that the painfully slow response and recovery does not happen again. NY heavyweights like NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo and NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, in a pre-parade breakfast, supported the creation of the commission. Meanwhile, there are about 11,000 homes in Puerto Rico still without power and it might take another two months for full restoration, that is, if another hurricane doesn’t hit by then. This is unacceptable and part of that frustration was clearly visible by both the marchers and parade viewers.  As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade with much excitement and lots of noise from the crowd to get things started.

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A Call For Accountability

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Grand Marshall Esai Morales

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Radio Personalities Lulu and Lala

 

     The NYPD Marching Band got things kicked off soon followed by parade dignitaries and politicians letting the crowd know they were there to help push the recovery effort. The parade was also a big chance to honor all the first responders that volunteered their time to help in a time of need. Nurses, firefighters, energy repair technicians, truck drivers all had a hand in the initial phase of the recovery. But more needs to be done. NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo got the most love from the crowd since he has been a champion for the disaster relief effort since the beginning. Both NY State and City had sent trucks and personnel to restore power to thousands of homes and help in the clean-up effort.  But there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. After the politicians left, then the party started. The first of the music floats to arrive were The Jara from the NYPD Hispanic Society. Each year, the various pueblos in PR send their representatives to march. Although the headcount was down for obvious reasons, Morovis and Salinas had the biggest groups and were shown much love by the crowd.

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What A Beautiful Flag!!

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Mr. and Mrs. Jorge Posada

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Representing the Heroes

 

     Honorees of the parade rolled down in convertible cars with the crowd cheering them on and taking plenty of pictures.  Leading the way was Grand Marshall Esai Morales, leading man in several movie and TV hits like Chicago PD and La Bamba. He has helped breakdown stereotypes of Hispanic roles throughout the years.  Soon after came former Miss Universe 2006, Zuleyka Rivera, Queen of the Parade.   Famed news reporter, David Begnaud, was also honored for his outstanding reporting on the island after Hurricane Maria’s aftermath.  Lawyer and TV personality from The View, Sunny Hostin, got her dream come true to be honored as  an Ambassador. My personal favorite honoree, former NY Yankee catcher Jorge Posada and his wife were honored for their work in helping cure a disease their son was afflicted with.  Local radio stations were all present, both English and Spanish with KTU twin hosts Lulu and Lala making the biggest splash. Puerto Ricans love their music and dance. Many dance groups show up to show off their moves. One group that stood out was a small but energetic group dancing to a parade favorite song…Que Bonita Bandera (Such a Beautiful Flag).

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A Rallying Cry for those Lost

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Beauty Queen Enjoying the Parade

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Costumes of Vejigantes

 

     Every now and then we get a special treat and this parade was no exception. A float with Tito Puente Jr. arrived led by the Eddie Torres Jr. dance group.  Both were on their A game and showed the crowd the beauty of and fun of music and dance done the Puerto Rican way ..con mucho sabor…(done in great taste and style). Both men carried on the torches of their legendary fathers in their way. That truly was one of the best highlights of the parade. A perennial favorite is the NYS Nurses Associations float with their live band and sizzling singer. They always get the crowd worked up. As a change of pace to the usual blaring brass and rhythmic drum beats was a tribute to the most romantic music. The Tuna Mayaguenzana float had a dozen singers reminiscing of the beauty of the island through Boleros.   That was a nice treat especially for the older folks that heard that music growing up on the island. Another crowd favorite is the Taino Towers float from El Barrio in Spanish Harlem. This year, they made their own version of the Santana hit Maria,Maria.  The lower East Side of NYC is home to a group of Puerto Ricans from Loiza and their group came to represent with a colorful float and fun dancers and drummers.  They were a lot of fun and played to the crowd well.  One of the best dance groups of the parade is XDance. The crowd always gives them much love for the great choreography and dance costumes.

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Working The Crowd

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XDance Having Fun

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Resistance Moving Forward

 

     In between all the fun dance floats were reminders of the suffering of the devastation and the slow response to the disaster of Hurricane Maria.  It was also a call for action to help continue the efforts to support the people of Puerto Rico by doing anything you can. Joining a group, or volunteer your time in an effort to help our fellow Americans. Even contacting your local representatives to apply more pressure for help to Puerto Rico. This is not an issue that can be forgotten or swept under the rug because  another topic made it to the news cycle. As the parade winded down, it made me proud to be a native New Yorker and even more proud to have a strong heritage that will not allow obstacles whether natural or man-made get in the way. Yo Soy Boricua Pa Que Tu Lo Sepa!!

 

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See You Next Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Howling Good Time In Flushing For the Lunar New Year

18 Feb
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Double Dragon Fortuna

     Hundreds of marchers were getting ready near Queens Crossing on Main St. in Flushing,  for the start of the annual Chinese Lunar New Year parade. This is one of the most important festivals in the Asian community and usually lasts about 2 weeks. 2018 is the year of the Earth Dog according to Chinese astrology. I especially like this neighborhood parade because of the great food digs especially along Prince St.  Flushing is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country and home  to over 200 places of worship within a 2.5 square mile radius and remains a model of plurality and an example of how different religions can coexist in harmony.  Commercial and residential development is on the rise in Flushing with the near completion of Tangramnyc and mounting pressure on the City to revamp the area adjacent to Citifield, home of the NY Mets. With all the new progress on the horizon, the parade helps keep tradition going with thousands of people lined up along the parade route to rub the nose of one of the dancing lions or  elegant dragons for good luck and prosperity.

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Dancing Lions

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Falun Dafa

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Dragon Greeting the Crowd

 

     As usual with these parades, the mounted police signals the start of the parade. VIPs and dignitaries carried a large banner announcing the event with the NYPD Marching Band getting things started. This year, the Chinese groups led of the parade with the World Journal double dragon Fortuna wagging their tail down the parade route. They got the crowd really worked up. A returning  favorite were the DCH Racing Group Dancing Lions. They really got into it and were tossing lettuce leaves into the crowd, a symbol of good fortune. Several loyal community groups followed with their banners and well wishes for a Happy New Year. The largest of these groups is Falun Dafa, with their huge marching band. This year they added a few dancing lions and more flags. Their presence keeps growing with their positive messages and beliefs. Closing out the parade were the large Korean marchers with their traditional dress, traditional drummers and military war veterans barking orders to their group to stay in line. They were getting lots of love from the crowd especially since the Winter Olympics are being held in Pyeongchang.  The parade always closes out with a pyrotech display of thousands of firecrackers being lit. What an explosive way to kick off the parade season in NYC.

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Xinnian kuaile

Stepping It Up In Harlem for the African American Parade

19 Sep
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Hillside Blue Thunder Kicking Things Off

     The second leg of the big parade weekend turned out in Harlem for the 48th annual African American Day Parade. Billed as the largest parade in the nation celebrating Black culture, talent, and contributions to the fabric of this country, this years edition did not disappoint. Another hot day invited well over 800,000 spectators to fill up the parade route on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd from 111th to 135th Sts. The reviewing stand on 125th St near the shadow of the famous Apollo Theater was filled to capacity. This year, announcer Yasmin had her hands full with the hundreds of groups that participated. Some groups came as far as California to share in the celebration. Kicking things off were the Hillside NJ Blue Thunder group with a real nice introduction to what would be a fun filled day. This years parade theme is “Salute To A Better Health” with lots of health related grassroots groups helping raise awareness. This years Grand Marshalls are all prominent physicians and health professionals dedicated to promoting healthy lives. This parade more than any other does promote social agendas to help raise awareness of issues the people of this great city are facing. It’s really inspiring to see so many groups follow in the words of Adam Clayton Powell Jr…”If you believe in cause you must be willing to put yourself on the line for that cause”.   A long time activist, Dr. Lenora Fulani, was getting the crowd for NYCHA to stop pushing out the poor all worked up.  NYC is facing a housing crisis. Gentrification over the last 30 years has pushed people out of their long time homes for “market rate” housing. Although NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio has been a proponent of affordable housing since his administration began, the tide has been clearly set against the poorer residents as landlords look to gain at the expense of others. With a small army of activists, some of the marchers were spreading the word on taking action to prevent further displacement.

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Spreading the Word

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Getting the Drummers In Line

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Best Drum line of the Parade

 

     It was great to see organizations like the Vulcan Society Inc, a group of firefighters and EMTs that support community outreach programs and help recruit youth into careers as firefighters and paramedics. A grassroots group that is taking matters into their own hands is the I Am Peace Movement. They work in conjunction with hospitals to reach out to the community about empowering youth. Girl Trek was on beat promoting women to put on their walking shoes and get out and walk. One of the largest groups participating was the Egyptian Masonic Order of the United Nuwaupian Nation. They have some great outfits and a great spiritual message. Right after them was a parade favorite, the Temple Guard Drill Team. They always do a great job.  This parade is known for its high stepper coming in from Baltimore and this years groups did not disappoint. Kicking things off were the Christian Warriors. A nice treat was a group from both California and Baltimore that merged groups. The West Coat and East Coast Westsiders put on a good show for the crowd.   The group that really put on a great show were the Baltimore Entertainers. They got the crowd worked up. Not to be outdone though were the Baltimore All-Stars and Mass Destruction. They all had great costumes, a fierce drum line and some energetic dancers. This was a fun parade with lots of drums music and positive messages. Of course, when in Harlem step on over to any one of the great restaurants in the area. Ruthie’s always gets my vote. Best fried chicken recipe in the neighborhood.

Tropical Heat Turns Up on 5th Ave. For the National Puerto Rican Day Parade

12 Jun
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Vejigantes starts up the parade

     On one of the hottest days of the year, it was more than the temperature that was getting heated on the parade route on 5th Ave. for the 60th annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade. Like many Spanish speaking folks would say, Aqui Hay Candela…(there’s fire going on here and not the kind FDNY can put out). This years version of the parade started off with controversy as Oscar Lopez Rivera, a former member of the militant FALN and pardoned by Pres. Obama at the end of his last term, marched in the parade. His appearance caused many big longtime sponsors like Goya Foods, Univision, AT&T, Coca-Cola, JetBlue and others to pull-out. Heavy weight politicians like NY Governor Andrew Cuomo , the NYPD and FDNY also declined to attend. Initially, parade organizers wished to honor Oscar Lopez Rivera with the “National Freedom Hero” award, but he later declined the award and preferred to march and bring awareness to the multitude of issues hurting the island. Ironically, the parade was held on the same day a referendum vote was held on the island. Even the voting process had some controversy to it. Bottom line was the vote for statehood won by overwhelming majority vote and is now waiting for the US Congress to act. Good luck with that. Congress failed to act on an earlier referendum with a higher voter turnout in 2012.  Many of the issues revolve around the bankruptcy filing earlier this year and its effects on the island population like closing of schools and hospitals. A decade long middle-class migration to the US, nefarious financial dealings, and a decline in tourism have all contributed to the precarious economic situation the island finds itself in. Marching with Oscar was a large contingency wearing the black and white version of the Puerto Rican flag that is symbolic of the Resistance movement.

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Oscar Lopez Rivera – the face of the Resistance

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A call for Unity

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Jibaros Getting In on the Action

     The parade usually draws about 2 million spectators but between the heat and the controversy, there was about half that size crowd. This parade is known to be the loudest and proudest of all the parades. There were still plenty of people screaming at the top of their lungs for love of the island. Kicking things off was the 1199 Union float with a singer having lots of fun with the crowd. Grand Marshall, salsa legend Gilberto Santa Rosa, made his way up the parade route followed closely by the Madrina, actress and singer Iris Chacon. One of the better floats came from the NYS Nurses Association with a great rumba band and some hot dancers. A newbie to the parade came all the way from Lorain, Ohio with a nice tribute to Tito Puente. They were pretty good. Sometimes a group gives a nice surprise with their performance and Los Hacheros float had some traditional sounds that made you feel like you were on a beach somewhere on the island. A returning group that keeps making a nice impression were the baton twirling Batuteras de Junco. Keeping the heat up were the XDance group. They have swag and not afraid to show it.

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Gilberto Santa Rosa

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Plena Dancers

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XDance Getting Ready to Show Off Their Moves

     Even though the parade ended earlier than other years and the turnout was not as much as in previous years, it was still a fun parade. There were lots of flags, dancing, happy faces and plenty of  to talk about after the parade was over. No matter what your opinion is of Oscar marching in the parade, there’s a crisis going on in la Isla del Encanto, the enchanted island. Even in the face of a looming storm, Puerto Ricans find a way to have fun and love all that is good from the island.

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Yo Soy Boricua, ‘pa que tu lo sepa!!

Rain Doesn’t Damper Spirits at the Hispanic Day Parade

10 Oct
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Military Veterans proudly display Latino Flags

A morning of showers kept many revelers home and had the marchers on edge about marching in wet raw weather but after a minor delay, the 52nd annual Hispanic Day parade got started up the parade route on 5th Ave. from 45th to 65th Sts. Normally this parade draws over a million revelers with marchers coming from many parts of the US and Latin American countries. This is a display of culture and contribution of Latinos from over 19 countries have made to this great nation. Macys and the Daily News award the group with best representation with an prize for their costumes and performance. Although the crowds were not as large as in previous years, the marchers were having a fun time dancing their native and traditional dances. As usual the lead country is Spain as she is considered to be the Mother country of Latinos after the colonial conquest all throughout the Western hemisphere. There was an equal amount of representation of native Indians and of the African influence in Hispanic culture. Typically, this parade starts of alphabetically with Argentina and Bolivia kicking things off.

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Parade Beauty Queens

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Carnaval Costumer from Barranquilla Colombia

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Panamanian Dancers

Although there was no tango dancing this year, the Argentinians did display their gaucho costumes while the Bolivians did have some high energy dancing with the Indian influenced tinkus getting things started. A group of cowboys from Chile showed of their costumes and dance moves.   The Colombians showed off their native dances mostly cumbia.  There was a Carnaval group from Colombia dressed up in comical costumes that ended up winning the big award for the event. Costa Rica and Dominican Republic had some traditional representations. Ecuador had some nice costumes and beauty queens. Two marching bands were in from El Salvador that were pretty good. One was a sharply dressed group called Banda El Carbonero from NY and the other was a group up from Maryland that also displayed a group of military veterans.  Honduras had some colorful costumes and sent a soccer hero. Mexico usually some traditional dancers and the chinelos group but the rain kept them away this year. Nicaragua had some cute costumes as well but had seen better in years before.

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Banda El Carbanero Having Fun

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Uruguayan Candombe Drummers

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Bolivian Tinkus in Full Force

Every year, the group from Panama sends many bands from their native land. It must be a great treat for many of the band members visiting for the first time. The first group was from the Soyuz School. They were very good. The next one was even better from the Banda Cristiana de Panama…Loved their outfits. There was a group from Paraguay showing off their traditional dances. Usually the dancers balance 3 bottles on their head but the wind gusts limited the bottle count to only one this year. There were a few Peruvian dancing groups but the best one had to be the traditional dancers. Uruaguay always sends their condombe conga drummers with their sexy dancers. Venezuela has been getting better in sending more groups and floats to represent their culture. Closing out the parade was more bands from Panama including the Colegio Felix Oliveras Contreras soon followed by the Banda San Miguel Arcangel with traditional dancers. Saving the best for last was the Banda Internacional Apacolipsis with their devilish red costumes..they were scorching hot. Even though the weather was not great for a  parade day, the spirits were flying high and Latinos from every nation would be very proud.

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