Tag Archives: Parades

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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