Tag Archives: people

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

 

 

Filipinos Dazzle on Madison Ave. for the Independence Day Parade

4 Jun

 

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   The second leg of the dual parade day was for one of the more colorful parades so far this year. Billed as the largest celebration outside of the Philippines, the Filipino Independence Day parade got under way on Madison Ave. near 38th St. and made its way down to 25th St. where a large stage was set up for an after parade festival. On  June 12th, 1898, Filipinos proclaimed their independence from Spain and has been a key ally of the US ever since. In this version, there were groups both honoring and decrying the current Filipino President Duterte. Beauty queens were abound with elegant gentlemen dressed in the Spanish style guayaberas.

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     One of the best parts of the parade are the native tribal costumes and dance. There is a huge group dance competition each January in the Philippines and the winner is invited to this parade to display the much revered Nino Santo – the Holy child. One group that really stood out was the colorful group from Cebu. Their costumes were amazing.  All the marchers stopped by the reviewing stand on 28th St. where parade VIPs approved of the dance or display.  Another group from Talisay also had colorful costumes and nice dances. This is one of the most colorful and friendliest parades of the city. If you have the chance, it’s well worth the effort to see it.

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Taking It To The Streets of NY at the Dance Parade

19 May
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Tribal Belly dancers Having Fun

     As diverse and multi cultural as New York City is, one parade that brings every one together to celebrate the most ancient of art forms is the Dance Parade. This young parade celebrated its 13th year and just like most teens, the parade was wild and full of life and energy. Over 10,000 dancers showed off their moves along the parade route starting on 20th St. and Broadway to 8th St. and then turning towards Tompkins Square Park where a huge festival took place after the parade. Along the way, dancers stopped by the reviewing stand at Astor Place to demonstrate their dance moves.

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Bolivian Caporales 

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Flamenco Dancers

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Classy ladies in synch

     This years parade theme was Movement of the People and kicking things off was a float dedicated to the original ones. Honoring Indigenous people was a float carrying one of this years Grand Marshalls, Louis Mofsie, a retired school teacher and current director of the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers. Soon following them were a perennial favorite, Danielle Lima and her Samba Dance Group always get the party started with their dance moves. If you’re not moving it with this group, then you have no pulse. A section dedicated to belly dancing and fluid movements soon followed.

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Danielle Lima and her Samba Dancers

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Tinkus Having Fun

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Mabel my Favorite Octogenarian

     70s music is always fun to dance to and uplifting. The Shining All Stars got into the action with their dance rendition of Right Back Where We Started From. The cultural dancing started getting hot and heavy with the Russians doing their thing. But as usual, the Bolivians bring out hundreds of dancers. They have such great costumes, high energy and lots of happiness doing what they do.  There are three main sections to the Bolivian group. First, the Tinkus danced with high energy. They are inclined with the Indigenous part of their culture. The Morenales is a more slower dance and reveals a part of their mining history of silver. They also have the best boots of any group. Gaining the most attention and applaud are the high energy Caporales. Groups come as far as Virginia to participate and they never disappoint.

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     A group that always represents with class are the Flamenco dancers. Their float was really having a fun time. House music got lots of people moving even though the float lost some power because the energy was so high. One of my personal favorite groups are the rollerbladers. They always bring it and my favorite octogenarian still rolls up on her skates does a hula hoop dance. Mable is a living example of how music and dance are an important part of staying healthy. Got to keep moving. One group that always gets the crowds moving is Fogo Azul,  an all-female drum band. They were alot of fun as always.

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       All the groups made their way towards Tompkins Square Park where stages were set up for more dancing shows. Other sections of the park were set up for dancing instruction. Dance Parade is one of my favorite parades because it unites all people across ethnic and socio-economic lines. It honors Dance in the Dance Capitol of the World right on Broadway. Shake that Groove right now, baby.

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See Ya Next Year

 

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

16 Apr
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Greek Marching Band Gets the Party Started

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

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Evzones Marching Up 5th Avenue

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Folkloric Costumes

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Proud Marcher

 

 

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

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

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LONG LIVE GREECE!!!!

Persians Celebrate Nowruz on Madison Avenue on Double Parade Day

15 Apr
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Aftab Dance Group Getting the Crowd Worked Up

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

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

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

7 Apr
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Leading the Way

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

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Sir Billy Connolly and wife Pamela Stephenson

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Mt. Kisco Scottish Pipes and Drum Rock the Parade

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Honorary Young Fireman, Ross, enjoying the moment

 

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

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Shamrock and Thistle Pipe and Drum Band

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Shelties Stealing Hearts

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One Woman Wrecking Crew

 

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

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See Ya Next Year

 

 

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