Archive for the ‘Parades’ category

A Saturday in NYC

September 12, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve done any significant new wandering around NYC; but today I did.

It’s cool, dreary, and overcast with occasional rainshowers. My kind of day. I got up and couldn’t figure out what I felt like doing and realized it’s been forever since I’ve wandered through Central Park. So, off I went. Without my camera (so no new pictures).

I took the bus up to East 72nd Street and started to wander over to the Park. I immediately spotted something interesting: people walking around with runner numbers over their shirts. It turned out that there had been a big fitness run in Central Park and I was getting there too late to see anything of it. Well, except for one or two hundred ex-runners wandering the streets of Manhattan. No big issue, but mixed amongst them were men in kilts! Not with runner numbers…but with musical instruments. Mostly drums. (I would have loved to see bagpipes, but didn’t notice any.) I’ve never heard of bands going along with a fitness run. I realized something else must be going on. Then I started noticing people in identical shirts. Lots of them. Lots and lots of them.

I had accidentally run into the terminus of the annual labor union parade. I don’t know when and where it started, but it was being terminated at 5th Avenue and E. 72nd Street around 11am. The cops were sending the floats in one direction and the marchers in another. The marchers were wandering off toward home (I presume). I started noticing a lot of signs promoting their unions and Democratic Party politicians. No Republicans need apply around that group. I did notice one of the politicians (I recognized him from one of the posters) hugging various marchers. I think I remember his name, but I won’t guess it here.

So I stopped to watch for a little while. There was one good band with cheerleaders, but the rest was pretty boring. No, it was actually very, very, very boring. This and the St. Patricks Day Parade have to be some of my least favorite parades. Just too “municipal government-oriented” for my taste; although I have to point out that a number of the paraders were not associated with the City government. But a whole lot were. I think that if I had stuck around, I’d have seen a very similar contingent to the St. Pat’s grouping.

I did stick around for about 45 minutes. I don’t know why.

Then I entered the Park. Ahhhh! Very pleasant. I didn’t stray too far from a beeline across, but I did get to the sailboat pond where people rent remote control sailboats. There was some sort of birthday party or story-telling going on near the Lewis Carroll statues. Only two sailboats being operated, but both were being controlled pretty well. At least up until the users started using the little engines on them and they started going very quickly and ruined the casual ambiance I was feeling.

I left there and went by the boathouse where you can rent real rowboats. I didn’t see anybody out on the lake, though. The most fun thing I’ve always noticed about that place is that when a man and woman rent the boat, the woman almost always does the rowing. I don’t know why, but that seems to be the standard.

From there I went to Bethesda Fountain and saw a wedding that was just finishing. I always see brides and grooms around there on a weekend.

I did a little more wandering and decided to head out to my favorite Manhattan Street: West 72nd. It hasn’t changed over the past year or so. At least to my eye. I found a little aquarium/tropical fish store and spent a while going through there. I was actually slightly tempted. But my place is way too small for a decent aquarium. And the dead fish smell (probably starting within days of my purchase) would be too pervasive.

I went to Broadway and saw that my old favorite open-air bookselling place is still going strong. Street vendors with used books are always there. I went up Broadway to 51st Street or so and had a hamburger at Nick’s. It wasn’t as good as I remember, but the ambiance is absolutely unchanged. It is the quintessential greasy spoon and is always jammed with stoves, tables, and people.

Afterward, I went home. It was just about a 2 hour jaunt, but very pleasant.

-H

Advertisements

2009 Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue

April 12, 2009

It’s Easter in New York City and the Easter Parade is still a major draw.

Remember, it isn’t a real parade.  The police cordon off 5th Avenue between 49th St. and 57th St. and people mill about.  The minority wear hats.  The majority have cameras.

20090412-easter-parade-01

The place was jammed.  Biggest crowds there that I’ve seen before (this is my fourth or fifth of these).

Every so often, someone decides to do it nicely…or at least over the top in a more elegant manner.  The below were the ones I spotted this year.

20090412-easter-parade-02

But it is almost universally a silly-hat-day.

20090412-easter-parade-03

I liked this kid’s “bucket head” enough that I’m putting in two of him.  (The one below includes his mother(?) who didn’t quite go the buckethead route but kept her’s nice plus another person who went the hat-height method).  But the picture above was my favorite for the day.  So two of him in this post there shall be!

20090412-easter-parade-04

You know, I really didn’t spot any absolutely-new-and-improved hats this year.  It all seemed a little derivative of earlier hats.  I guess that the tried and true route was the one everyone was really going for.

20090412-easter-parade-05

But one thing was a little different from earlier years.  I’ll wait to the end to disclose it.

20090412-easter-parade-06

Yes, there were lots of stuffed animals on hats.  And adorable children in colorful hats.

20090412-easter-parade-07

And there were others who also took the “good” route.

20090412-easter-parade-08

The weather was cold and windy. That’s sort of typical.

20090412-easter-parade-09

The closer you get to St. Patricks Cathedral, the greater the crowding.

20090412-easter-parade-10

An issue in the parade that happens every sunny year is that the shadows can really play havoc with pictures.  There are four carrot hats here.  The fourth one, on the left, sort of faded into the shadows.

20090412-easter-parade-11

At this point I was in very close to St. Pat’s.  You can see it in the background of the next picture.

20090412-easter-parade-12

20090412-easter-parade-13

I still had a number of pictures to take (I’m only halfway through with this post), but this just shows that the hat-wearers really hung around outside the Church.

20090412-easter-parade-14

The next picture was a sort of traditional picture: dog with hat. In this case, the poor dog was surrounded by photographers and had put its head down and was completely unmoving. I looked at it for about 10 seconds and couldn’t figure out whether it was a real dog or a stuffed animal with a hat. Then the dog came to life and barked at someone near me. Yeah, it was a live dog. I took this picture just after it barked.

20090412-easter-parade-15

Just more pictures of the hatted few.

20090412-easter-parade-17

20090412-easter-parade-16

The next one was more imaginative than virtually all of the rest. Chia Lady.

20090412-easter-parade-18-chia-lady

Down a block from St. Pat’s, there were some more commercial attempts at costumes. There were a small contingent of people dressed in bunny costumes and handing out eggs. I don’t know their reason for it, but I got the feeling that the eggs were promotional gifts. Maybe, maybe not.

20090412-easter-parade-19

But the next guy was in it for the money. He did say something about how we could put money in his hat.

20090412-easter-parade-20

Others seemed just to be heading up to the main crowd at St. Pat’s when all of us with cameras slowed them down.

20090412-easter-parade-21

20090412-easter-parade-22

And when you pose with a costume character while 20 people are taking your picture…well, your picture ends up in places like this.

20090412-easter-parade-231

Sometimes it was more difficult to tell the store-bought silly hats from the let’s-make-it-at-home silly hats. I hope this was just a family project as these 3 or 4 were amongst the most colorful of the day.

20090412-easter-parade-24

Just as I was leaving the area, a bunch of people showed up and started to pose for us.

20090412-easter-parade-251

And my last picture of the day. Once again, the shadows made picture-taking difficult for amatuers like me.

20090412-easter-parade-26

Okay, all in all it was a little disappointing. A lot of that is because I was there until about 11:30am and there was still a lot of time left for the truly interesting ones to show up. But, this timing was pretty typical of my other trips so I don’t think that’s it. It was a lot colder than the last year or so and the wind was brutal. So that may also be part of it. Maybe I’m just getting blase about the Easter Parade.

I did note one difference from my earlier attendances: men in hats. The first time or two that I came, the only men in hats were those who had latched themselves to their wives as if to say: she made me do it! This year I seem to have noticed a lot of men just wandering around in their hats. Make of it what you will.

-H

2008 Pakistan Day Parade in New York City

August 24, 2008

On my way to Church on Sunday, I discovered that Madison Avenue had up the barricades for a parade. I hadn’t looked to see if any were scheduled, so I didn’t know who it was. I talked with a cop and he told me it was the Pakistan Day Parade and would be held at noon.

That made me pretty happy. The Pakistan Day Parade is one of my favorites and last year’s post on it is actually one of the most popular posts I have on this blog.

So, when I left Church, I didn’t bother going home, but showed up on Madison and 38th at about 11:30. I talked with another cop and he said it would be at noon.

And then I got disappointed. Noon came and went. The parade route had cars going north on it unimpeded by the police officers stationed at every corner. I could hear the bands warming up! I figured it was actually a late start or maybe a 12:30 parade. Finally, another cop walked by and I asked and he told me 1pm. It wasn’t worth leaving at that point and I did want to see the parade. So, I waited. Amazingly, at 12:45 I was the only person on my block waiting for the parade. A number of obviously Pakistani people went by (you could recognize them because they all seemed to have flags) but they were heading to the block or two north of me close to the very beginning of the parade.

Promptly at 1pm, the parade started. My block had a few more people, but not many. I looked in vain for the family that I had seen last year and the man who had proved to be the biggest hit of the parade. No luck.

First, came the cops on horses and then the dignitaries came. There was a bunch of ’em.

This year’s parade was a lot more political than last year’s. Well, it is an election year. I’ve seen this same limo for the candidate before.

There were a couple of marching bands, but the Pakistanis really like to come in floats and virtually every one I saw was jammed. The guy at the front right of the float below was one of the parade highlights. You can’t see the movements, but he was very animated and having fun.

Like most national day parades, there were flags everywhere. As usual, most of the flags were of the originating country, but there were a lot of American flags, too. SM&B Construction’s float had a visual that I really liked.

I didn’t understand the next float. It had the name of Dr. Muhammad M. Haque from the Department of Immigration. I don’t know if it was a float he sponsored or one he is memorialized on. I presume the latter.

The next float was pretty cool. It was a celebration of the American International School System in Pakistan and noted how there are schools throughout Pakistan that use American connections and techniques and supplies to further their education. I gotta support that.

My personal highlight of the parade is something new this year: beauty queens. They are a staple of most parades, but I don’t recall seeing any in other parades so closely associated with Islam. All beauty queens are automatically pictured in Famous Ankles. So here you go, thanks to Wholesale Building Supply.

Last year’s parade was a pretty quiet affair. This year, lots and lots of music. I wouldn’t say this was the loudest, but it was one of the best. One of the DJ’s at the back was dancing in time with the music and it was pretty well done.

Finally, there was this next float. Apparently, it is a limo service.

Okay, why is this one of my favorite parades? It doesn’t even have the “big flag” and only a couple of beauty queens; what’s so great? The answer last year was the “Dad” character and the fact that the entire parade; the whole parade; from beginning to end was about 18 minutes long. This is a town where a two-hour parade is typical and I’ve left one parade after more than four hours while it was still going on!

This year’s parade was much longer than last year’s. It hit the 29 minute mark. Well done and a happy 61st independence day for Pakistan.

-H

2008 Dominican Day Parade in NYC – Part 2

August 12, 2008

This is the second of two posts on the Dominican Parade.

The next picture was just one of those things. This guy may have been associated with some group, but I sure can’t figure out who. He and another cyclist were in an open area of the parade and they just kept doing some circling around in the street while waiting for the cross traffic at 46th to go by. In the meantime, this guy was doing the same trick again and again. He was pretty good at it, but it was obvious that he was still practicing. I gotta admit that I enjoyed the trick even though he seldom could hold the position for more than a moment.

A mambo group that didn’t mambo came through after the cyclist. But they didn’t dance at all while I was watching. The one photo that almost worked was accompanied by half the flag of my neighbor as she waved incessantly…so, no photo. Sorry.

Another group followed them that I sure don’t understand. It’s called “Grupo De Lechones” and had a sign mentioning Carnaval. Fine. But what were the Egyptian masks on the sign for? I just don’t understand. But I did like the weird skateboard used by one of the marchers. He’s below.

But following him was the parade highlight. I had seen these guys last year and just thinking of what they did raises the little hairs on the back of my neck. They were the “beasties” I mentioned in yesterday’s post, but beasties with weapons! Well, sort of. They had bullwhips and they were cracking those whips constantly. These weren’t little snaps and the like. They were loud and…well, they were really loud and close to the crowd at times.

The next picture shows one of the close ones. These guys were vigorous in their whipcracking. And very skilled. And loud.

The next picture shows two of my favorite beasties. (I have no other name for them and I kinda like “beastie”.) The guy on the left was very friendly and came over and was posing and talking with some of the people to my left. The guy on the right had the most interesting hat in the entire parade.

I enjoyed the next group that followed, too. It was a Dominican Tae Kwon Do group that did some moves and the like in front of us. The best part was what I took the picture of: one of the more skilled guys (I presume) leapt over the hand-held sign and broke a board being held by one of his fellows. A nice little trick, and very effective.

The group itself had people of a wide range of ages. Quite a few kids.

There was even a mention of the Iraq War issue by some military members and their families. The next picture shows some people carrying a picture and placard. The sign held by the soldier and the family(?) members are identical and state “I am Boricua Air Force Reserve Sgt. Daniel Jorge and I am headed to Iraq. Please don’t forget the sacrifice of my military borthers Dominican soldiers Alex Jimenez, Juan Alcantara and Marine Rian Tejada and Columbian Jonathan Rivadineira and pray for my safe return.” God bless you, them, and your families.

Incidentally, “Boricua” seems to be a word for the Puerto Rican people.

Some more beasties. Ah, they were ever present in the parade and I got so few good shots of them. They are just so colorful and weird that I don’t know why it really doesn’t come out better.

During much of the parade, there were lots of political candidates present and/or being represented by lots of supporters. Except for Mayor Bloomberg, who had no overtly political signs around (he marched in the “dignitary” group); every single politician was a Democrat. But that’s so very typical of NYC. I really have no interest in showing their signs and the like, but two of the three usual group was in the parade: Charlie Rangel rode in his convertible and Anthony Weiner did his bullhorn bit. No sign of Chuck Schumer.

But the one political display I will show is the next picture. I just looked at it and laughed that State Senate candidate Monserrate viewed this as a parade vehicle. There were lots of his supporters around and I doubt the candidate was in this stretch limo, but I can’t resist putting this into the posting. I presume it is rented, but the idea of this being one of his vehicles is a hoot. How much do we pay State Senators here, anyway? (I googled it and it seems to be just below $80K, but it is only a part-time position.)

So, there was candidate after candidate. To tell you the truth, the weather was looking a bit iffy and I wasn’t very happy with the caliber of the displays. But then some dancers showed up and made me perk up. This group was quite good. As I always say, combining native costumes and dance is always a real plus in a parade.

There were some more floats and some were fine. There were politicians and money order businesses and the like. But after that last set of dancers it wasn’t until 14 minutes later than I found a group I enjoyed enough to write about: models. I think it was some sort of model school, but maybe not. The thing I really liked was something I really couldn’t capture: they spent a while standing and doing this sort of weird wave that reminds me of Queen Elizabeth when she waves to crowds. A sort of minimalist twist of the arm more than a wave. These young ladies were more than a little bored although one of them is giving me a bit of a saucy look. Well, maybe to someone on my right…

The parade itself was very good. Too many politicians. Not enough dancing. But those are quibbles. The crowd’s enthusiasm was wonderful and a sight to behold. The ear-splitting cheers and flag waving and the like were a delight. It’s a good thing to be compared to the Puerto Rican Day Parade and this parade is getting into that class. It needs a few celebrities and maybe about 10 more decibels, but that’s probably about all.

-H

2008 Dominican Day Parade in NYC – Part 1

August 11, 2008

Sunday had the annual Dominican Day Parade on Sixth Avenue. Like last year, it was big, it was loud, it was loud, and it was loud. All in all, a good parade with an enormous amount of audience enthusiasm and, as can be expected, a lot of politics in an election year.

The parade did start on time. The crowd was large, but I did manage to get a front row position. That’s the good news. The bad is that I was right next to a young Dominican lady somewhere between 15 and 19 years old (I’m guessing, of course). She seems to have spent the previous year in a training program in professional screaming. And wild flag waving. She must have been tops in her class. My right ear is still suffering. And about 1/3 of my pictures ended up with part of her flag in it.

The parade started with cops on horses and cops on motorcycles; but my first picture was one of the highlights of the parade. These horses have some sort of equestrian training. They took very quick little steps in a prancing motion. Very cool, and impossible to capture in a picture.

The horses were followed (at a discrete distance) by the dignitaries including Mayor Bloomberg.

And that group was followed by some guy who appears to be the king ‘o the parade. I presume he’s a local character of some sort or the figure may be some sort of cultural icon. In either event (or neither), he got a lot of enthusiastic yells from the crowd. Of course, with this crowd you could have walked an chewed gum and the audience would have been leaping in joy. They were really, really wired up for this parade. And that’s the fun in parades. Almost never the participants alone, but in the give and take between paraders and watchers.

Goya foods is one of the big supporters of the parade. They had a number of floats. As is the Famous Ankles tradition, beauty queens get pictured. Here’s the first of many.

One of my best memories from last year’s parade was centered on what I can only think of as “beasties”. These are some sort of devil critters that seem to be very prominent in the culture. Whoever creates the costumes can be proud of how imaginative they are. There were lots and lots of beasties. Some of them came over very near me. Some will show up later; others are pictured with a young lady’s flag between them and my viewpoint.

Well, here are some more Goya beauty queens. And I should mention that everytime you see a float; think in terms of 120 decibels of fun streaming from them. Very loud. Not quite Puerto Rican Day Parade loud, but getting close.

A dance troupe called “Little Dancers of Borinquen” performed very nicely. Ah, but discerning readers may note that Borinquen is in Puerto Rico, not the Dominican Republic. Hey, it’s a probably a case of any opportunity to dance in public to very loud music. The group’s picture below is just of the youngest, but there were young ladies of every age in the group and they all did just fine.

Well, we’ve gone long enough without some beauty queens. Here are two from the New York Daily News. Nice smiles, ladies. I really am pointing out the “beauty queen” bit here because it nearly vanished in the last half of the parade. That’s when things got a lot more political…and boring.

One of my favorite bits in any parade is native costumes matched with vigorous dancing. It’s one of those things that riles up the crowd just right and brings out the energy. There just weren’t enough of these groups in the parade, but I did appreciate the ones that were there. And the crowd did, too.

The next picture shows a child in one of the same sort of costumes as above. But there was something a little different. Right before she and the boy behind her came up was a man in the same costume doing a comedy act. Not a transvestite, but some sort of Milton Berle in drag sort of comedy routine that I saw a couple of times and made me think there was a cultural in-joke that the crowd knew, but I didn’t (well, except the comedy was broad enough for anyone to catch). The fact that these two followed them so closely had me thinking that they were part of it, but it’s hard for me to remember why I made that conclusion. She may have been just too young or too tired to do the dance routine and her proximity to the comic may have just been coincidental.

More dancers showed up. These ladies were great and very energetic. I have several pictures of them with the girl-to-my-right’s flag in front of them. She was a waving machine with them.

As always, I like to get a good photo of the crowd. It was big. I was around 46th Street which means this wasn’t anywhere near the most crowded part of the route and just look at them!

I’m going to finish this part of the coverage with another beauty queen. I haven’t any idea of who she is or what she represents. Okay, she’s representing the Dominican Republic and doing a very fine job of it.

There were still a number of big things to come in the parade. I’ll cover the most interesting ones of them in tomorrow’s post, but a lot of it became very political. Lots of politicians and their supporters. And every single one of them was a Democrat. Welcome to NYC, what did you expect?

-H

Parade? What African-American Day Parade?

August 9, 2008

Led astray again by NYC dot Gov’s Events Calendar…

I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t be as good as last year’s, which I enjoyed for many reasons but also because of the crowd’s method of preparing for and enjoying a good parade (as I mention, lots of them brought out easy chairs from their homes to watch it in comfort). Bringing the parade to mid-town would change the parade, but it was impressive enough last year that I think it could have done pretty well on Sixth Avenue.

I got to 41st and 6th Avenue nice and early. I didn’t think I’d have a problem finding a spot and didn’t. In fact, I seemed to be the only one aware of the parade. Or was it that everyone else was keenly aware of the parade’s absence? I saw the parade barricades were set up, but was a bit concerned that there were no cops at the various intersections. By 12:45, I knew nothing was going to happen, but stuck around just in case.

And the “just in case” never happened. Nada. Zilch. No sign of anything anywhere. Just the usual street traffic.

At least there’s another parade in the same location tomorrow. Right….? (I’m told it’s the annual Dominican Day Parade, which is a pretty good ‘un.) We’ll see.

-H

2008 Giglio Parade in Brooklyn Part 1

July 13, 2008

A co-worker had alerted me to what he said was a don’t-miss event: the Giglio Parade of the Our Lady at Mt. Carmel Church in Brooklyn (actually, the Williamsburg part of Brooklyn). The way he described it was that it was a tight-knit Italian neighborhood that got together and held a fair/festival at which some of the locals would carry a huge shrine down the street in a show of celebration. As part of that shrine, there would be a band on it.

Just like you may have just done, it brought to my mind’s eye almost a scene out of The Godfather. Not that they did it in that movie, but just that sort of street festival.

So, I did my research and found that the festival takes a couple of weeks, but the Sunday before the end seemed to have everything I wanted to see. So, I took off holding a couple of ideas in my head: it’s small, it’s very crowded, and it happens at 1pm.

Two out of of three ain’t bad. I got there nice and early.

And the place was nearly empty. At least at first. I got there right around noon and they still seemed to be setting up. It gave me a chance to see everything. Several times. Finally, it did start to fill up a bit.

One thing I hadn’t understood from my friend’s description nor from the website: there are two items carried: a boat and a shrine (each are called “giglio” which translates as “lillies”). They start at opposite ends of the street and each is carried about a block and a half by fifty or sixty men. The first giglio I saw was the boat.

As I understand the celebration; the Italian town of Nola was attacked by pirates something like 1600 years ago. A local bishop named Paul escaped with some of the children, but upon returning to the town he discovered that many had been carried away by the pirates. He offered himself as a hostage for their release. The offer was accepted and he was taken away to North Africa. There, another leader was taken by the offer and set him free. His return was a cause of great celebration

The second giglio is just really high and thin. I think it’s 65 feet up. It’s made of wood and, although it looks like a part of the landscape in the above and in the next photo; it is designed to be carried.

As the next photo shows, at the bottom are metal girders wrapped in some foam rubber to protect the shoulders of the carriers.

I couldn’t resist taking the next shot, just for its dramatic effect. It makes it look tall. Well, it is tall!

Midway is the “Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.” Once again, I don’t know the link between the “our Lady” and the giglio and Bishop Paul (later declared a saint). The article I read was rather murky on the linkage between them and noted it was controversial.

I’m a terrible person. As I stood in the midst of faithful and patriotic Italian-Americans, I kept thinking of Mussolini and the one nice thing people used to say about him: that at least he kept the trains on time. I was thinking of that because time kept passing. Very slowly. It was a clear hot day and the crowds were growing and there was zero movement on the part of the people to start the lift. I was hot and tired and hadn’t sat in hours.

Well, there had been some movement. Just after 1pm, the local bishop had left the Shrine in a procession. After he left…nothing. Not for another hour!

The crowd just kept growing and growing. They knew it would be delayed, I guess. Well, actually, I heard some of the talking about how it was always late. Just before 2pm, we started seeing some activity and the lifters and musicians got into position. And just after 2pm, the boat was lifted out onto the street and rotated a full turn.

Okay, and the great thing? The lifters were having some fun and trying to shake up the boat occupants. It’s a wonder none of them became publicly seasick. They swayed, they bounced, they threw confetti.

Both of the giglios had a band on the dais of the lift. It held eight or ten of them. And they got into it. Some was standard Italian-style music. I think it was some of their Church music, but I just don’t know. Both of the giglios played the National Anthem (of the US) at different times. Each of them held a singer and each of those belted out some standard songs.

I haven’t talked about the second giglio much in this post. Other than its height, it performed in much the same manner as the boat giglio. The lifters spun it about on its axis a couple of times. The two bands were in competition with one another. The lifters both swayed the giglios a bit, but I’m pretty sure the boat was shaken a whole lot more than the saint giglio. Well, that makes sense.

The both were headed in my direction. The saint giglio got to the destination first; but that’s because there was an incident (actually a fight) right next to me involving the boat giglio lift crew.

That was something. Enough that I’ll wait to post on it tomorrow.