Archive for the ‘Parades’ category

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.


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.

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.