The 51st Celebrate Israel Day Parade

Untitled

Untitled

When I mentioned that we went to see the Philippines Day Parade, I noted that the Israel Day Parade was on a different day this year. We did go see that too, but I didn’t say much about it because we didn’t stay that long. I like the idea of the Celebrate Israel parade because I like the idea of Israel as a country and what it’s trying to stand for. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the policies the country has, but then again I don’t agree with a lot of what the US does either. But I like the fundamental ideas of equality, freedom, and democracy that Israel is working towards. I won’t go into the rightness or wrongness of the establishment of the state within its current borders and boundaries, but denying that an Israeli nationality exists is just silly, and because my wife and I like and support Israel as a state, and for what it’s trying to do, we went to see the Celebrate Israel Parade last May 31st.

Untitled

What I don’t like about the parade is how generally unexciting it is. On the one hand, it’s cool to see all of the Jewish community and religious groups, but generally the parade is just people walking down the street in matching T-shirts, usually holding a sign saying what group they’re representing. Maybe I’m numbed to the simple pleasure of that sort of thing, but in New York City, when there are LGBT parades, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the Macy’s Day Parade, floats and brass bands and actors and singers in attendance with accompanying conerts in the street, well, this one just sort of pales in comparison. There are plenty of valid reasons and justifications. It’s hard to live up to corporate-funded hype, but one can only stand in the sun watching people walk down the street for so long before it gets boring.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

I’d say the most interesting part of the parade this year was the protest and the counter protest between 58th and 59th streets, on 5th avenue, flanking the parade route. The protesters sectioned off into a coral, created with crowd control barriers. One group was composed of the chassidic Jewish guys that think Israel and its creation is an affront to God. Basically, they think Israel should not have been re-established as a state until the moshiach (messiah) returns. They had signs with wording that pretended they spoke for authentic or true Judaism, as if they hold a monopoly on Jewish religion and everyone else is just a pretender. The lie was put to their claims as thousands of Jews marched by celebrating the existence of Israel. The other group was, I assume, a traditional orthodox (as opposed to modern orthodox) group that had signs condemning homosexuality and women wearing skirts that are shorter than 6 inches below the knee. The irony is that one of the women holding the sign with that wording had a skirt on that was too short according to her own standard.

As the marchers walked by, many would veer off towards that side of the road and read what was on the signs. Watching their reactions was incredibly interesting. Some cheered louder, some laughed and ignored the signs, some made angry comments or gestures towards the protesters. The chassidic guys mostly stood there praying or making a pointing down “shame shame” gesture. The other group of protesters mostly just stood there, holding their signs and smiling stupidly. When women in shorts came by, or the LGBT Jewish group came by, they cheered louder. Some of the LGBT group members, if I recall right, stopped and waved their own signs in front of the protesters. Some of the signs were really too much. The ones the protesters had. A lot of the marchers were children and I wondered what sort of effect those slogans and messages might have on them. I get that protest and free speech should be protected, but the combativeness and ugliness of it has to effect those kids in a negative way.

One of the chassidic protesters crossed the street to where regular viewers of the parade were standing. A group of angry Jewish women chased him away.

At one point, someone came and handed me some newspaper that at first looked innocuous, but on closer inspection was Christian propaganda that spoke about blood, fire, and death. It was wholly inappropriate. What sort of jerk shows up at someone’s celebration of their cultural, national and religious heritage and tries to denigrate it through proselytizing?

We stayed about an hour and then met up with two friends and walked over to Bloomingdale’s to have frozen yogurt in their cafe, 40 Carrots. I hadn’t been there in a few years, since I did seasonal employment at Bloomingdale’s in 2010. If you’ve never been, their frozen yogurt is amazing! If you’re in that part of town, it’s worth stopping there to get some.

A slideshow of more photos from the parade:

50th Annual Celebrate Israel Parade

My wife and I went to the 50th annual Celebrate Israel Parade on 5th Avenue on the 1st. It was a lot of fun. I was particularly struck by the amount of pride and patriotism that the participants displayed. It stands in stark contrast to the attitude Americans seem to have about America.

We didn’t realize it at the time, but the Philippines National Day parade is held on the same day, one street over, every year. We missed out. Next year we’ll do a double-header and catch two parades in one afternoon.

We didn’t stay for the entire Celebrate Israel Parade. It runs from 11 AM until 4 PM. We were there until about 1:30 and then took a walk through Central Park before heading uptown to a nice a Indian food dinner in the neighborhood. It’s amazing how many cultures one can partake of in a single afternoon in this city!

Please check out the rest of my photos of the parade in full resolution in my Flickr Gallery: 50th Annual Israel Day Parade – 2014

A Dance Parade, Protesters, Painters & People Stealing Garbage

People protesting something going on in Turkey.
People protesting something going on in Turkey.
A crazy guy dancing with a toilet seat. He usually does this by the large black cube at Astor Place.
A crazy guy dancing with the molding from a van window, I think. He usually does this by the large black cube at Astor Place.
This guy was taking a break from dancing to the tune of a nearby Buddhist meditation group. Shortly after this, he took a bag of trash from the public bin and walked away with it.
This guy was taking a break from dancing to the tune of a nearby Buddhist meditation group. Shortly after this, he took a bag of trash from the public bin and walked away with it.
This is Francis Virella. He wants to make it big as an artist.
This is Francis Virella. He wants to make it big as an artist.

Today, there were all sorts of things going on in Union Square. We just happened to be walking through and saw a crazy guy dancing, another crazy guy stealing a bag of garbage from a public trash can, had a conversation with a guy that wants to make it big as an artist, and then wandered into a dance parade. It was a lot of fun, and the random, amazingly entertaining things that you can just stumble into is one of the reasons I love New York City.

You can see the rest of the parade photos, in a higher resolution in my Flickr gallery by clicking HERE.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade Pictures

Skulls on a shelf at a Walmart in Georgia.

I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!  I spent my evening out on 6th avenue watching the annual Halloween Parade, which is said to be the largest Halloween event in the country.  I’ve gone to see it once before, in 2007 when I was here in the city on leave from Kuwait to visit family.

A picture of the crowd going up one side of 6th avenue.

It was pretty chilly out there, really crowded and it smelled funny.  Maybe it was just the area I was standing in, but I heard a few other people complaining about the smell as well.  There wasn’t much I could do about it.  I showed up an hour early and still was standing behind 3 rows of people.  I figured if I moved I might not get a spot as good as that anywhere else, so I just put up with it.  I didn’t hang around for the whole thing.  After the better groups of parade participants walked by, I figured I’d beat the rush of the crowd.  Getting jammed around by a crowd of mostly drunk people isn’t my idea of a good time.

I was hoping I’d get some better pictures this year, but most of them still turned out poorly.  I’ll share the better ones though:

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

Barbie thought she was special so she was walking by herself.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

This is the head of a skeleton horse, and it’s front hooves, if you’re wondering, plus some dead fish swimming around in the background.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

Yes, they are naked and covered in body paint while dancing to the beat of a tribal drum.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

This little girl was walking on stilts all the way down the parade route from Spring Street to 16th Street.

2010 New York City Halloween Parade.

These two guys were dressed as the stop and go signals for pedestrian crossings.

And that’s about it.  By this point I was starting to really feel the cold and my legs were starting to get tired, so I decided to head back home.  I hope you enjoyed the photos, and hopefully I can get some better ones next year!

Chingay Fiesta Tampines 2010 Floats

My wife and I went to Tampines 1 last night to have dinner at Manpuku.  There’s a stall there called Hokkaido Aoba Ramen that’s really, really good!  We always get the Sho-yu Cha-shu Ramen and a side of wafu gyoza.

Anyhow, on the way in we noticed that the field by Tampines 1 and the MRT station was filled with a stage area and the round-about area where the Giants / Courts shuttle bus usually picks people up was filled with floats.  After a little walking around I saw a sign announcing that it was for the Chingay Fiesta Tampines parade.

There were quite a few people there, and after my experience with the crowds at New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year’s Eve, I wasn’t in the mood to try to put up with it again, especially on an empty stomach.

So, I did the next best thing.  I took a look at the floats, snapped some photos, enjoyed part of the show on the stage area and then went to dinner!  I didn’t have my camera with me unfortunately, so I just used my iPhone, but the pictures came out pretty well anyway.

Have a look:

I was really impressed with how much effort went into the floats.  As we were getting ready to leave we saw a woman show up in what appeared to be traditional Indian garb.  I think she was going to accompany the float that had the big head (pictured above) on foot.

What impressed me more is that this much effort was put into a regional parade, considering that the official Chingay parade had already taken place. If you’d like to see some really good shots of the actual Chingay 2010 parade, please click HERE to see a beautiful Flickr set.  The following photo is a sample from the set:

© chooyutshing / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
© chooyutshing / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0