Archive for the ‘Parades’ category

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.


Puerto Rican Day Parade Part 1

June 9, 2008

Sunday was the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in Manhattan. It, I believe, is the largest parade in Manhattan. And the loudest. I had my rules (posted Friday) and mostly followed them.

I was at 53rd Street on 5th Avenue. Not a bad spot, but one I thought I might have to defend at one point. I got there around 10am and it was the first open spot on the route that I found (having walked up from about 49th). After I was there for about 10 minutes, a man and woman walked up and announced that they had reserved the spot. I sputtered “reserved?” in an incredulous voice and then said I had been there for 10 minutes. They counter-announced that they had been there and had left to get breakfast. I thought better of saying the obvious counterpoint. And then they said that their family was right there, too. Next time, folks, tell your family to announce your “reservation”. I didn’t budge. Not true. I shifted over about 4 inches. I was in a rebellious mood and didn’t want to give up a good spot in the shade.

Anyway, that’s where the argument began and ended. They fit in with the rest of their family and we didn’t speak again. No threats or anything like that; just a brazen announcement made that was supposed to chase me off. But I guess I was more stubborn than they expected.

After an hour, the parade started. It’s a big parade. I didn’t make it all the way through and still ended up with way too many pictures.

First, the Hispanic Police group.

After them, as usual, came the dignitaries. Lots of them. I didn’t know I had taken his picture, but the guy in the white shirt, center, is Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

My area was pretty popular with reporters. I figure that if they wanna block my view, I can take a picture of the back of their heads. I believe this is a NY1 reporter and cameraman.

And the dignitaries kept on coming. Here’s the City Council.

A break in the dignitaries to give a real important person a chance to meet us: Miss Puerto Rico, Jenice Marie. (Forgive the open-mouth shot, it’s the only one that came out reasonably clear.)

A number of areas of Puerto Rico were represented. I really could never figure out the beginning/end of these groups. But this is the Lajas group. The cop in the picture was around for about half the parade.

Lajas beauty queens. I don’t remember quite as many beauty queens last year. This year, zillions of ’em. Not complaining…

Lajas dancers. This was one of the best groups I saw all day. I liked the liveliness and the native costumes.

I think Parguera is another area of Puerto Rico. Might be part of Lajas, might not be. See what I mean when I said I just couldn’t tell about area designations?

And this was the Lajas Folklore Ballet group. So, we’re still in Lajas…maybe. No dancing by this group. Just walking and looking elegant.

More dignitaries showed up. This was NYC Assemblyman Reuben Diaz, Jr.

Another dignitary. The one and only Congressman Anthony Weiner, complete with bullhorn and sign bearers. I’m proud of this shot. I call it the “Weiner Run” and I see him do it all the time. He’ll go to the side and talk/shake hands and then bolt out from that group as if he’s spotted someone he knows further on. It gives him a chance to break away from the handshaking. I don’t envy him doing this for a couple of miles in that heat! And it was as hot and humid and NYC summers get.

This guy had a more leisurely way of getting around: roller blades. He just looks like a character and certainly drew a lot of attention.

Heck if I know who these ladies were. Beauty queens. Yeah, that’s fine. But put something where people can read it, please. The hood says “Piratas Del” something and “Arroyo 2008”. I dunno.

I saw these guys and thought “Navy”. Wrong. It’s the U.S. Public Health Service.

Dancers! More specifically, The Little Branches of Borinquin. Borinquin or Borenquin is an area in Puerto Rico. These were pretty good dancers.

I love this one. This is part of a big group from Banco Popular, a well-known and very large bank in Puerto Rico. Well, they had a beauty queen. And why shouldn’t they?

I like this shot. I would never confuse Chuck Schumer with Banco Popular beauty queens, but maybe others did.

This is Senator Chuck Schumer. Puerto Rican for the day. He was talking constantly in Spanish over the bull horn.

A new area of Puerto Rico: Ponce. And they’ve got their beauty queens. She looks like she oughta be in Carnivale.

My final picture of today’s post is another beauty queen. Who was she representing? Why Goya, of course. I have some of their beans in my cupboard. You probably do, too.

As I said earlier. It was hot. And muggy. And hot. I had on some really good sunscreen and did survive without a burn.