Archive for the ‘Parades’ category

2008 Mermaid Parade on Coney Island – Part 4

June 25, 2008

This is the fourth and last of my posts on the Mermaid Parade.

I don’t know what I really expected from the parade. More importantly, I don’t know what I got from the parade. Lots of skin, to be honest. There were some politics in there. Some showmanship. A bit of cleverness, but not enough. I guess I expected pretty much what I got: a parade that just reveled in being a parade with marchers that were a bit exhibitionistic and a little bit laid back.

For what it’s worth, I tell you one thing it lacked big time: excitement. I’ve gone to lots of parades and a good parade has a lot of music and a lot of crowd participation. Some of the marchers, especially those at the beginning, tried to rouse the crowd. But maybe it was too hot. Probably it was too silent. The times it worked? When there was a lot of music. The times it didn’t work? When the marchers were in their own little world and didn’t project to the crowd.

Back to the coverage…Stilt-walking woman with a Carmen Miranda hat and blue painted skin. Okay, that seems to sum up Coney Island for me.

Here’s another picture of the crowd, just to show that this is a pretty popular parade.

The next picture is at the end of a frenzy of picture taking. Almost every picture I took had another photographer in it. But I did catch a picture of the guillotine at the end of it. The part that was the big attraction: dancing Marie Antoinettes in high hair and short dresses. Maybe eight of them in total. What does it have to do with mermaids? They called it “Marine Antoinette”.

Okay, I have very little excuse for the next picture except I like it.

Perhaps the best costume of the day: Popeye. He got a few call outs from the crowd. Well, he is a sailor man so I guess he’s a fine addition to the Mermaid Parade.

You can’t read much on Famous Ankles without running into pictures of beauty queens and the like. Well, here’s Miss Use of Recycled Materials. Well done! Of course, you sure ain’t the normal “Miss” anything I post on, but I’m content with that.

It took me a moment to understand what the next group was doing. Okay, beyond the showgirl aspect. Their headgear is a salute to Coney Island rides. Nicely done. I just wish I had caught the one on the far right a moment earlier (she had the Cyclone on her head).

They were trying for whimsy (I guess). They were trying for funny (I suppose). They were trying for cleverness (I would hope). A cowgirl/mermaid and a viking? Come on folks. You didn’t hit any of them.

Here’s a float. It symbolizes…I haven’t any idea.

This is what a lull in the parade looked like. There was a crossing area right where the crowd is (where people could go from one side of the parade to the other to get, for example, from the beach to the food area). Those people are just encroaching on the parade route to get a picture.

Maybe the idea of a theme is too deep for this parade. The people below sure don’t seem wedded to the idea of depth and relevance.

I think the next group is just trying hard to make me wonder who they are supposed to be. Sea monster and can of tuna?

I’ve seen this group do stuff before. They take old Metro cards and glue them together for costumes and the like. Why? Heck if I know. But then, I don’t know what Aztecs and the Mermaid Parade have in common, either.

This young lady is loaded up with SPF 2000 or so. And a parasol.

I guess the “sea monster and the beauty” is something of a cultural constant, and here they are again.

I started feeling the heat so I left with maybe 30 minutes left in the parade. Hey, I was really wiped out. And then it took forever to get to the subway. That’s because the parade was still going on and I was inside the square that the parade was making going up to the Boardwalk, down it, then to the street and then back to the beginning point. The crowd on the street was huge. I’m really glad I stayed on the Boardwalk.

So, that’s the end of the parade for me. I left really tuckered out and a day later hadn’t gotten back to snuff. I’m not sure if I’d recommend the parade to others. Like I said at the beginning, I did edit out a lot of pictures to keep this safe for work. But it wasn’t salacious. Maybe it was trying, but it didn’t even reach that.

For what it’s worth: next year bring a lot more music and make the marchers be a little more than people walking down the Boardwalk. Oh, and keep the hula hoopers. You can never have too many of them.


2008 Mermaid Parade on Coney Island – Part 3

June 24, 2008

This is the third of four posts on the parade. In my earlier post, I mentioned that the West Village Sea Monster Marching Band came on and started playing. Following them was an old favorite: hula hoopers. I always post pictures on hula hoopers; it’s the law.

This was one of the best points in the parade. The music was loud and catchy (I think) and the marchers broke into dance. A very fun few moments.

The next picture shows one of my favorite moments. You have to understand that there were a ton of photographers around, and many were inside the Boardwalk fencing (they had press passes of some sort). They kept getting in the way on some pictures. Well, this next young lady had gone past and the music and dancing got a little more frenzied and she put on one heck of a dance sequence (you can see a male marcher looking on in appreciation, too). Toward the end of it, the photographer in front of me apparently noticed my intense picture taking and turned to see her finish her bit. I think he missed taking any photos at all. Ha! But Famous Ankles was well aware. That’s another photog right next to her, but I think he was too close for his camera to capture her. In a couple of my pictures, he’s just staring.

This next lady was in a group called the “Pink Lady Salmons”. Thanks for the smile.

The second picture in a row of a pretty girl smiling at me. I am so predictable.

I confess, I love the next picture. In the first post of the parade, I mentioned how I would have enjoyed a bunch of people in olde-time swimsuits. Well, I guess I got one more here. Sort of.

And yes, that’s three pictures in a row like this.

Perhaps the biggest non-sequitur in a parade that reveled in meaninglessness: a participant dressed as a mermaid being groped by a gorilla. That’s one woman with a gorilla costume set on her shoulder and legs. On top of that, her (human) hand has a banana and she’s dressed a bit like a Fay Wray mermaid. A “Fay Wray mermaid”?

The next picture captures someone I think I’ve seen before. In one of my posts on the 2008 Dance Parade in Manhattan, I saw this little girl (at least I think it’s the same girl) walk a long ways on her stilts. She’s not only talented, but determined. Well done, young lady.

Ah yes! Hula Hoops. Lots and lots of them.

You’re seeing one of the best parts of the parade. The hula hoopers were in control and it was just fine.

More hula hoops! Yes, more. I gotta love it when they do this. It isn’t quite as good as dancing and all, but it works for me. And this lass was really good.

One of several King Neptunes in the parade. This guy went to some trouble. Good for him. And the eyeglasses make it even better.

The next batch of people were just a gaggle of semi-costumed types. Well, them and a guy as a squid. I approve of the squid-man!

I love pictures of people on stilts. I have no idea why, but I just have to post it. (Okay, okay. People who know me know I like to juggle and I always view stilt-walking in the same vein, except I never learned how to stilt-walk.)

As I’ve mentioned, the parade was filled with non-sequiturs. Below is a cowgirl on a bicycle. Well, the bike is supposed to be a fish. So, I guess this is a cowgirl on a fish. With a gun.

“Defenders of the Galax-Sea”, indeed. I like this picture, but I also liked the picture I took a moment later (and didn’t put in here) of Wonder Woman. It was a fine Linda Carter immitation. But what does that have to do with mermaids?  Or Coney Island?

This was the biggest thing that made it to the Boardwalk. The most interesting part: there was water shooting from its mouth. I, and many others, had to protect my camera when it pointed my way.

I always love the winged dancers / fan dancers / whatever. I have to post this one just to keep my streak going.

When I took the next picture, I knew it would be a good’un. She looked at me preparing to take a picture and threw the confetti right when I clicked. Thank you very much.

I presume the long dresses are supposed to evoke the mermaid tail. It doesn’t click with me, but maybe I’m not their target audience. But I still don’t really understand why people come without any real costume and parade. Except for the opportunity to be the center of attention, I guess.  Strictly speaking, this wasn’t a parade about mermaids or summer or Coney Island.  It was an exhibitionists’ parade celebrating their ability to flaunt.  I guess.

If it’s a Mermaid Parade (or at least named as such), I guess we’re not supposed to expect men in geisha outfits. And I didn’t expect them. I presume it isn’t a subtle jab at the Japanese custom of the very pale makeup being displayed on a day of more-or-less sun worship. Of course, that could have been an interesting study of cultural mores.

Well, the below picture is a study in the “themelessness” of the parade. Pirate guy all dressed in black. One lady a study in contrast: out for a lot of sun, but carrying a parasol to keep the sun off of her. The other two in costumes… Hey, they ain’t costumes. They’re just walking down the Boardwalk.

Topical tropical. Women in grass skirts.

Have I mentioned how much I love hula hoopers in parades? I guess I have. Here’s more.

I’m going to end this post with a picture of a purple guy. I think that makes it unique.


2008 Mermaid Parade on Coney Island – Part 2

June 23, 2008

This is the second of at least four posts on the Mermaid Parade. As you’ll see, there’s really very little pulling this parade together. When I was watching it, I kept thinking of the supposed Winston Churchill statement: this pudding has no theme! The parade was the same way. It just seemed to be clever for the sake of being clever. But most of it wasn’t that clever. I don’t mind the exhibitionism, but that’s actually one of its only real charms.

In keeping with that, I have to admit I love this next picture for all the wrong reasons. She just utterly ignored the crowd. I’m not sure, but I think she was making a phone call. Hey, mermaid! We’re over here!

I don’t know if this is the real “Larry the Lighthouse” or an imitator.

The next picture is that the most elusive mermaid: the mermaid with the head of a fish and human legs. Along with its more prosaic cousin.

The next group called themselves “Carmen Mer-anda and the Samba Sharks”. Get it? Mer-anda – Mermaid? C’mon, folks. That’s just an excuse for the hats and not a clever take on anything whatsoever.

Next came a group called Oceanblue Divers. I don’t know who or what they do. Or even if it is a real group. Well, they have a sign, so they must be real. So few groups were marked that I should just be grateful that three groups in a row did carry a sign. Thank you.

Women with squirtguns. I don’t know if they are part of the group or not.

This isn’t the Polar Bear Club, but it is the Winter Ocean Swimmers.

The next bunch was a set of protestors. The below protestor was threatening something probably very near to the hearts of the crowd: Starbucks.

Anti-condo protest. Coney Island is undergoing a major set of renovations and these ladies don’t like it.

The next is a very subtle editorial by the protestors: evil capitalist threatening blonde.

I’ve got a couple of these protestors pictured doing the same thing: sea creatures catching developers in a net and hauling them away to their doom. Symbolizing? Hey, is this a terrorist threat?

Okay, I’m still mystified. This is part of the protest group. They have an octopus. The people holding the octopus are labeled “plankton”. Octopi don’t eat plankton. Why do the “plankton” carry squirtguns? What is this protesting?

A summer celebration called the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island. Let’s have feathered headdresses!

A few more protestors.

A marching band appeared (the West Village Sea Monster Marching Band). I usually sort of enjoy marching bands (more so when they are good at it), but having live music at any point was just fine with me. And, you know, I really don’t remember if they were real good. It was just good to hear music.

As you might expect from the West Village, they weren’t a regular high school marching band.


2008 Mermaid Parade on Coney Island – Part 1

June 22, 2008

I did go to the 2008 Mermaid Parade. I’m glad I did, but it sure wasn’t what I expected…but I don’t know really what I expected.

It’s an odd parade. Part of it is on the streets of Coney Island, but half of it is on the Boardwalk. I knew that they wouldn’t have certain parts of the parade on the Boardwalk such as anything motorized, but I couldn’t resist watching the parade there. It was just too unusual to miss.

So, for a parade that started at 2pm, I got there early and started waiting in on the route at around 1pm. And I’m glad I was there that early. It filled up quickly. It’s a very-well attended parade, but I have to admit it was very unexciting in the sense of no real thrill to the crowd. Hey, it was hot. But mostly, I think, it was the lack of music. There were a couple of odd marching bands (and no conventional ones) along with some boombox music and the like, but it just didn’t have a real soundtrack to it.

In this and the posts to come, you’ll find that I’ve edited the selection of photos pretty extensively. You have to understand that NY laws state that if a man can go without a top, so can a woman. And a lot of women took that to heart. Not a tremendous number, but quite a few. So, in the interest of remaining safe for work and for family viewing, I’ve excluded a lot of my pictures. Many that I’ve included might be too much for some people, but I think they’re relatively safe.

I have no idea how many posts I’ll make of this. The parade had many small groups and I got photos of almost all of them, but some were eliminated for content and others for redundancy and others simply because the visuals were uninteresting. I plan to complain about this during some of the posts (or maybe all of them) because the parade was just too disjointed and all over the place. It was, I suspect, designed to look very playful and spontaneous, but it just ended up being another group with somewhat clever costumes being followed by another group with similar costumes. And then another. And another.

Anyway, here’s what it looked like on the Boardwalk just before starting.

The parade started with a small marching band and a big Mermaid Parade sign.

Very quickly, we had our first mermaid. This one on a pretend phone call.

I liked the next one and thought it boded well for the parade. A celebration of subway cars that were sunk to help form an artificial reef.

The parade was filled with young ladies clad in their swimsuit finest, augmented with whatever accessories they felt like adding. Well, the next were young, but I’d hardly call these their swimsuits.

I didn’t really think much when I took the next picture. But, after the parade and after I reviewed the other photos I took; I kind of like this one. I think it might have been interesting to have an entire contingent of people in the olde-timey swimsuits.

I saw the next person and all I could think of wsa “glamor girl”. I haven’t the foggiest if it is a Jean Harlow impression or some other.

The next photo was for a group that protects women’s and children’s rights. The “Amethyst Women’s Project”.

The next picture is pretty much typical of much of the parade. Lots of girls in these sorts of tops.

Some people were interested in being outrageous. Or at least a little weirder than others.

Parasols on parade…at least in the background of the next photo.

A fan-dancer came up next.

The next picture is odd enough. A vampire fish woman with bears emerging from her waist? With a globe-like thing growing from her head.

More costumes. Well, the ones in the back are stylized jellyfish, but I’m uncertain about the showgirl. And the guy’s costume. Maybe some sort of plankton?

In the next picture, the best part is the little girl in the back. She has these huge fake crab claws.

Another little girl mermaid. Long tail. A bit more anatomically correct than mermaid costumes of my youth.

Mom with a parasol protecting her son from the sun, who has other things in mind. After all, he’s a pirate. With a misplaced eyepatch and a lollipop!

I could have gone a week guessing costumes, but I wouldn’t have thought of a family weather map.

The next was the most colorful group in the parade. Plus they did their own music. So little music in this parade…

Minimalist costumes…in the sense of not going way out of their way to create a costume.

There was so very little music to the parade. Or at least, I just don’t remember very much. This group brought their own music (note the woman on the left carrying a boombox).

A cute little mermaid followed.

A swooping sort of dancer designed to symbolize a swooping dancer, I presume.

The next seemed to be a pirate family of some sort. The family that pilages and sows terror on the high seas is a family…

You want kids in baskets? I got yer kids in baskets right here! Well, the baskets were decorated to sorta, I guess, be (maybe, possibly) turtle-types of things. Maybe.

Jellyfish man! The umbella with tentacles (jellyfish tentacles) was a popular theme.

Okay, another non-sequitur: Debbie D the Brown Haired Mermaid and a wizard. Debbie, I understand. The wizard? An available costume for the guy?

Channel 7 news was there for a feature. Like the rest of the Press, he got in people’s line of sight.

ISKCON – the Annual Hare Krishna Parade

June 14, 2008

When I went to the NYC dot gov events calendar, I thought they were kidding. They had the annual Hare Krishna parade set to go from 59th Street on Fifth Avenue (right at the corner of Central Park) going down to Washington Square Park.

That would make it a three mile route. New York may be one of the last places in the USA with an active Hare Krishna population, but it sure couldn’t support a three mile long parade. On Fifth Avenue, too. Fifth Avenue gets most of the biggest parades.

So, I decided to test the waters and went to Fifth Avenue and 41st Street and found absolutely no preparations for a parade. No barriers. Traffic running non-stop. I even asked a Public Safety Officer about it and he said he hadn’t heard a thing.

I’ve actually seen it before. Last year, I was wandering around the Park and had seen part of the parade. So, I knew for a fact where they started. I decided to go there and see if it was on or off.

So I went up and sure enough, they were gathering.

Lots of them. Well, not a tremendous number. By far the largest ethnic group were from India, but there were a lot of Caucasians and quite a few Blacks as part of the gathering.

Just after noon, the parade started. There was one vehicle in the parade and it led the group. It had the Hare Krishna/Rama chant written on it and they were blaring it from some loudspeakers, but not obnoxiously loud or anything.

I got to the front of the group and started snapping some pictures. Most of the crowd just followed along behind the lead vehicle.

The crowd was pretty diverse, but it did appear that people were wearing their traditional clothing for it. Not all by any means, but most.

The next picture is pretty interesting to me. You see, besides the lead vehicle and the crowd behind it, the entire parade consisted of three floats. In this picture, I captured all three of the remaining floats.

The floats were some sort of temple or temple-standin. This guy led the first one and was symbolically sweeping in front of it.

Each of the floats (well, of these three floats) were self-powered by volunteers. That is, members of the crowd joined in to pull the floats with attached ropes. It was extremely democratic. When I had been in the original crowd, a guy with a loadspeaker had been asking for volunteers to pull them.

The floats all contained an area with people in it. I presume they are the leaders or otherwise are dignitaries…or just people who were happy to ride in the heat of the day. I never caught any sort of idea of exactly what the floats were supposed to symbolize or honor or whatever.

Here’s the third float. That is, the second of the self-powered ones. This was my best picture of the pulling action of the worshippers/volunteers.

This one seemed to have a special symbolism. I noticed that the pullers were mostly female. Maybe they were all female, I spotted that issue when I was taking a picture and didn’t notice if the pullers in front were male or not.

The end of the parade. This guy was just at the back end of the fourth float. He wasn’t a tall guy, but look at how he compares to the wheel. These were tall floats.

And so ended my coverage of the parade. From the time the first float/vehicle past to the last was 15 minutes. They don’t block off Fifth Avenue for that size of a parade. I think they just marched them down one lane of Fifth Avenue all the way down. I see that a lot in the smaller parades or in parades that are using 2nd or 3rd Avenue. I hadn’t realized they would do it for Fifth.

Puerto Rican Day Parade Part 3

June 11, 2008

My third, and last post on the 2008 Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City.  And I start off with one of my favorite photos of the day.   Okay, my favorite photo.  This is radio station 1280, WADO.  They had a nice float filled with staffers.  One of them spotted me taking pictures and held her pose of blowing me a kiss for about 10 seconds.  At the end, I gave her a big thumbs up and we both laughed.  She oughta be a beauty queen.

More cars.  There was a pretty long line of them at this point.

More beauty queens.  This time I had the zoom on.

Let’s combine ’em!  A cool car with beauty queens!

The ladies below are representing CUNY (City College of New York).  Interesting hosiery ladies.  But, don’t ya think representing a pretty good school ought to entail something a little less…declasse?

Speaking of class.  Dogs in wedding dress.

Okay, the Boy Scouts were represented by a small contingent.  But were they prepared for the heat?  Probably, hey, they’re scouts.

A little dance group.  Very pleasant.

 This was a “support the troops” sort of group. Actually, they were a “support the family of troops” group. No other sign of the war in the parade that I noticed.

Now this was a very pleasant surprise. The “Taino“, an indiginous group of Puerto Ricans (actually from all over the West Indies). I knew they existed, but didn’t know their name nor really anything about them. According to the Wikipedia entry, 60 percent of Puerto Ricans have Taino heritage to some degree.

Well, one area of Puerto Rico that I know is a formal name: San Juan. They sent a float.  With beauty queens.  Zillions of ’em, I tell ya.

Another celebrity sighting. I didn’t know who Jordin Sparks was until I looked her up. It was obvious that she was a star of some sort, but I didn’t know she was a winner of American Idol. And, of course, I got a lousy picture of her finishing a drink. (The others only had half her head and I figured this was by far the best shot I got of her.)

Another reason I didn’t get a good picture of Jordin was the below woman. She was a dancer and was the absolutely most intense dancer I have ever seen. Her determination to boogie was astounding. I think this picture captures it. Her expression never changed. My second favorite moment of the parade.

Another marching band. A bit different than most. I really liked the dancers/native costumes in the front.

This last photo is the Grand Council of Hispanic Societies float. The young lady in the center was feeling energy I no longer had.

I left the parade after being there for four hours. It was long. It was hot. It was only about half over. I just didn’t want to stay anymore so I ankled home.


Puerto Rican Day Parade Part 2

June 10, 2008

To start off my second part of the parade coverage, I’m gonna show the “big flag” picture. Every parade seems to have one. Last year it was really cool. The crowd had thrown coins onto the big flag and when the marchers waved it, you could see the coins flying up several feet. This year, nothing.

The parade had a lot of cars being shown off. I’m not that big of a fan, so I’ve excluded a lot of them. But the one below was a nice car with a beauty queen.

The press was everywhere. Right next to me, El Diario had an impromptu interview with a neighbor. She then asked if I wanted to contribute, but I don’t speak Spanish and declined. I ducked that bit ‘o fame. Now, had they wanted to see my ankles…

After seeing Weiner and Schumer (not to mention Diaz and Bloomberg), I knew Congressman Charles Rangel wasn’t going to be left out. And there he was in a really nice red convertible.

I loved this group. The stilt dancing was pretty professional. I was impressed and I think the crowd was, too.

An ambulance company sent in a beauty queen. And why shouldn’t they?

Next came some pretty enthusiastic and good dancers. I enjoyed them, but don’t know how they handled the heat.

If you’re a healthcare company (I don’t want to bother looking up the name) and you want to be in the parade. How do you do it? Well, sending in bunches of dancers is not a bad way to go.

Politics, gotta have some. These were protestors wanting the release of the “Cuban 5”. They are the group that helped kill some from “Brothers to the Rescue“. They were also convicted of some spying related charges. A bunch of them.

I have no sympathy.

A car dealer sent in a car…with a beauty queen.

A float from Dorado. Another, I presume, district within Puerto Rico. Or maybe the fabled city of gold sent some representatives…

A truly practical float. A float you could get your teeth into. A lady on the float was cooking BBQ and handing it out to marchers. Not to attendees, though.  The guy in the foreground (right) had just picked up his lunch when I snapped the picture.

From “NuLife Entertainment”, came a float. And the float had two dancers. And it was good.

Some beauty queens from Salinas (I guess another area of Puerto Rico; and probably not from Salinas, Kansas, where I’ve been before).

A genuine celebrity spotting. And I did it myself. A float for Walt Disney’s upcoming movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”. I looked at the float and didn’t recognize anyone. But then I saw this guy and the light of recognition came on: Luiz Guzman. I’ve seen him in a bunch of stuff.

The most amazing part of it? IMDB doesn’t have him in the cast of Beverly Hills Chihuahua. He apparently just jumped on the float.

I guess these are celebrities. They’re from MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL3). I haven’t the foggiest idea of who they are.

I was a bit mystified by the next group. I’m well aware of high school and college marching bands. Even professional groups. But this marching band was from…the New York Department of Education. Say, what? Not a school, but an entire department of State government?

This little lady stood apart. Very poised and closely attended by a relative (I presume). She never faltered in how she held herself. She was actually, I suppose, to be the first in a line of others. But they were well back from her and I couldn’t get a good picture of them altogether. So, two pictures.

And the below ladies were trailing our tiny beauty queen. I like to think of them as her beauty-queens-in-waiting, but that’s just me.

The dance group from StarLite Dance Studio was pretty good.

I told you in my first post that there were zillions of beauty queens. Here’s another of the zillions.

The Univision TV network sent in a float.

It had been a while since we had cheerleaders. So, Morovis (presumably another Puerto Rico district) sent us some.

Unique? You want unique and maybe a little strange? Take a look at this guy. He was attached at the feet with this doll and spent his (their?) time dancing around the street. Oh, and he was sponsored by Jet Blue.

I kind of had to see it to believe it. In NYC. The Puerto Rican Day Parade. Why not find beauty queen Adriana Rosato from Indiana to represent the Puerto Rican Indianans. Actually, she was fine. Why didn’t other states send in their representatives?

It was a pretty good sized crowd. Not as big as last year (at least from my standpoint).

Just one of many car pictures I took.

Apparently, the Luiz Jiminiz Show is very popular and well-regarded.  They pushed this show in the parade at a number of points.  One thing I saw a lot of was hand-fans that were of Luiz Jiminez’s face, sort of in a Che sort of look.  You can see it below.