Ankling to the Pakistan Independence Day Parade
Today was the celebration of Pakistan’s 60th year of independence. Technically, the anniversary was Tuesday, August 14, so you may have had your own celebrations earlier. As part of today’s celebration, there was a NYC parade and Famous Ankles, a known habitue of such parades, couldn’t have been kept away with a stick. Okay, maybe if it were a big stick, but then I would have missed an enjoyable time.
The parade was held on Madison Avenue between 41st Street and 27th (the parades on Madison Ave. typically go north to south). My home and office are in the general area so it was a very easy commute to the site.
What did I expect from the parade? My favorite parades are always the small ones and the biggest point is to see things other than the parade itself. My “Famous Ankles” name comes from the Greek Independence Day parade in which my ankles became relatively famous by being next to two adorable little girls who received more pictures taken of them by official parade photographers (and people on the floats with cameras) than I could count.
As odd as it may seem for a Christian, my two favorite parades of all time are related to Moslem issues/countries. First, the Shiite parade last year on Park Avenue was amazing for the intensity, friendliness, and neighborliness of the participants (several people in the march came to me, the most northern European of all spectators, to let me know what the parade was about, what everything symbolized, the history of the issues, and everything). Second, the Persian Day parade from earlier this year had me interviewed by a Persian film crew who were thunderstruck that I knew why the parade was going in (they celebrate their New Year at the vernal equinox) and that I was delighted to see the incredible panoply of Persian culture including dancing girls and Zoroasterians.
So, to make a long story short: I was looking forward to the Pakistan Independence Day parade and it didn’t let me down. It was a small item that captivated me, but it was one that I enjoyed thoroughly and hope to be able to relate.
I showed up about 20 minutes before the start of the parade. I was near the beginning of the parade so I did run into the NYC parade starting group: cops and horses.
The first marching group…wasn’t quite Pakistani…it was a marching band…playing Sousa!
Okay, that’s not astonishing. Even now, Sousa has a place at most parades. And to get technical, this really wasn’t a Moslem parade. It was a nationalist parade. Sousa’s good for that: nice marching music.
The next group was a group of police officers, apparently of Pakistani origin. My picture didn’t come out. Sorry, NYPD.
And then the dignitaries. I did get a number of pictures, but I haven’t the foggiest as to who these people were.
There is one item about the dignitaries that I don’t understand. Who are the Black guys on each end? They don’t look of an age that would lend themselves to being long-time supporters and friends of the Pakistani community. They carried themselves more like bodyguards or something. But that makes even less sense.
Another dignitary issue: I’ve been to oodles of these parades. Congressman Anthony Weiner is always a member of the nationality (at least for the day). I know who he is because he loves to have people standing right behind him with a sign saying “Congressman Anthony Weiner”, just to make sure people know. Maybe they wouldn’t give him a bullhorn today (and he does love a good bullhorn). The mayor loves to come to these things. No show today. Both NY senators (Schumer and Clinton) come to them. No show today. It’s enough to make you feel for the Pakistanis. To be snubbed by Weiner… Of course, the obvious answer for all of the politicians is that they may not want to be associated with a country that is so Moslem and run under a military dictatorship. But I would tend to say that today’s crowd would have been receptive to a democratic and tolerant message. Hey, there were a lot of American flags being waved in addition to the Pakistan flag.
And that leads me to my absolutely favorite part of the parade.
As I stood waiting for the start, a family showed up to my immediate right. Among the members were a doting dad and two cute little girls. I had flashbacks to the Greek parade. But, it turns out that the star wasn’t the little girls; it was “dad”.
Being little girls (one being “the girly-girl” and the other being “the tomboy”), they were as cute as you would expect and I asked “dad” if I could take their pictures. He agreed, and even posed.
The second little girl was a lot more elusive, but they did get together and they did get the attention of official photogs.
(That’s “mom” collecting the kids.)
For the most part, the girls just weren’t into the parade, but “dad” was.
In that last picture, note that he has two American flags. That’s the interesting part. During the parade, he called to one of the people handing out placards and the like (they were inside the parade barricades). He motioned her over and started speaking and then pointed out into the street. About 25 feet away to my left was a fallen American flag, apparently dropped from one of the floats. At his behest, the woman went out and picked up the flag and brought it back to “dad”. Once he had it, “dad” didn’t let go of it. “Dad” is a real American. Yeah, it’s a small thing, but it strikes me just right.
The parade had started out on a quiet note. A marching band playing some Sousa and then some bagpipers.
And lots of floats.
I do kinda like the slogan “Life Comes At You Fast”. It turns out to be a Nationwide Insurance Company slogan. I had no idea it was a company float as the people obscured the logo, but it turns out that there is a small “Nationwide” sign there plus the company’s other slogan. But, I didn’t see those during the march and thought the first sentence might be a homegrown/local slogan. I shoulda known. After all, I was on Madison Avenue, the home of advertising.
Finally, someone cranked up the music (which had been loud, but not too loud) and the dancing started.
The dancing lasted…one float.
An item I learned at the parade was who Allama Muhammad Iqbal was: “the thinker of Pakistan”. Actually, he turns out to have been a poet-philosopher who pushed to have a separate Moslem country split off from India. He died in 1938, well before the independence of India from Britain and the partition of Pakistan from India.
And then, it was over. The whole parade was scheduled from 1pm to 3:30pm. The actual parade lasted 18 minutes. Well, it is a minor parade. But it was pleasant.