‘Tis Tartan Day

April 11, 2015

As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

On April 6, 1320, Bernard of Kilwinning wrote a letter to the Pope, proclaiming Scotland as an independent, sovereign state. Bernard was then the head of Arbroath Abbey, a monastery along the coast of the North Sea, and the document, written in Latin and sealed by eight earls and about forty barons, became known as the Declaration of Arbroath.

More than six hundred and fifty years later, a group of New Yorkers chose the date of Bernard’s missive to celebrate their Scottish heritage. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and by 1998 the U.S. Senate recognized Scottish-Americans’ contributions to the nation by declaring April 6 as National Tartan Day.

The Scots-centric festivities have grown and become a yearly event, dubbed Tartan Week, which honors all things related to the land once known as Caledonia. The highlight of the week is the loud and colorful Tartan Day Parade.

In the first New York Tartan Day Parade, a small, loosely organized group marched across the Upper East Side, from the British Consulate to the United Nations, while clad in kilts and playing bagpipes.

Today the 17th annual New York Tartan Day Parade was held on Sixth Avenue. It featured thousands of bagpipers, marchers, dancers, dogs and representatives of organizations from all over the world who strode up the street, delighting all the Scots and “temporary, honorary Scots” who lined the route in Midtown Manhattan.

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No Sixth Avenue bus today

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Marchers taking a break

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Shamrock tattoo

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Ready to march

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Marching and waving

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Bearskin hat

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Her first time marching

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Temporary, honorary Scot

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Carrying a staff

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Waving the flag

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Pipers chatting before the parade

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Bagpipers practicing

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Tartan Day Parade bus

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Marcher meets officer

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The Westie and Scottie Pack

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Clan MacLare

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Waving flags

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Girls leading the pipers

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Marching and piping

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The Grand Marshal isn’t as interesting as his phone

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Playing at 46th Street

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West Point Cadet Corps

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Seasoned marchers

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Pipers and drummers

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Best seat in town

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Greenwich Pipe Band

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Clan Chattan Confederation, Clan McBean, Clan Shaw

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Happy marchers

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Clan Kincaid

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Marching trio

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Scotland’s most famous citizen

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It’s Nessie!

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Clan Munro Association, Thailand

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If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap

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American Scottish Foundation

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Folk dancers

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NYC Police Band

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University of Strathcylde

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Marchers laughing

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Tri-County Pipe Band

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Dog in a kilt

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Atlantic Watch Pipes & Drums

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Group wearing thistle t-shirts

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Sauntering on the sidewalk after the parade

The National Archives of Scotland: The Declaration of Arbroath
Historic Environment Scotland: Arbroath Abbey
Scotland’s National Tourist Board: Arbroath Abbey
Undiscovered Scotland Bernard of Kilwining
New York Tartan Day Parade
NYC Tartan Week
St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York
New York Caledonian Club
American-Scottish Foundation

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Mermaids on Parade

June 19, 2010

This year’s Mermaid Parade was bigger than ever, possibly because this Coney Island institution featured iconic New York musicians Lou Reed as King Neptune and his wife, Laurie Anderson, as Queen Mermaid.

The sidewalks, fire escapes and rooftops were packed with viewers as hundreds, perhaps thousands of marchers, strollers and riders paraded along Surf Avenue. When they reached the police barriers at Astroland, they turned and began the parade again, this time passing through a long, narrow barricaded strip of the Boardwalk.

While the nautically-themed costumes were as clever, colorful and outrageous as ever, some of the participants opted to give their looks topical twists. These included not-so-subtle references to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (mermaids smeared with black paint, pasties shaped like oil wells) and sly nods to this summer’s vampire craze (mermaids with fangs and bloody neck wounds).

But whether they are classic or trendy, flashy or subtle, one thing is certain at this parade: everybody loves a mermaid.

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Dick Zigun, unofficial mayor of Coney Island, leads the parade

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Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed under a parasol

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Banners for King Neptune, Queen Mermaid and the Royal Mer-Dog

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Spectators crowded onto every surface

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Yes, even elephants

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Mermaids get thirsty, too

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A pirate smiles on the boardwalk

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A mermaid with blue hair

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Colorful creature from the sea

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A crown of sea serpents

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Pretty in pink

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Vampire mermaid

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A blonde mermaid

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Lobsters, come out and play …

Coney Island USA Mermaid Parade


Dyke March NYC

June 26, 2009

Now in its 17th year, the Dyke March NYC is a protest, not a parade. The people who participate in this annual event are motivated by a desire to increase their visibility and make their voices heard.

Thousands of dykes take over the streets every year in celebration of lesbians and to protest against ongoing discrimination, harassment, and anti-lesbian violence in schools, on the job, in our families, and on the streets.

The march goes down Fifth Avenue from Bryant Park to Washington Square. While the organizers never obtain permits for the march, the NYPD takes a rather benevolent view. All along the route, police officers block traffic, pose for photos, wave and generally enjoy Dyke March duty.

Even though it rained during most of the march, one police officer remarked, “Watching these women is the highlight of my week.” I hope you agree.

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Police cars lead the way

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Police and marshalls stop traffic

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Here come the marchers

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Drummers keep the beat

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The rain didn’t dampen spirits

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Finally, the storm tapered off

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Marchers were drenched but happy

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Very happy

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Some were silly, too

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Kids also participated

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NYPD posing and grinning

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Spectators’ signs were wet but legible

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Marchers carried signs, too

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You don’t need a sign to carry a message

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A marshall in her “uniform”

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Dancing in the street

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A couple with a message

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Walking in the sunshine

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Visibility was important

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So was togetherness

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Her shirt says “I love my two moms”

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The march ended at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village

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These marchers were inspired by the Village People

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The mood in the park was celebratory

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And triumphant

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Rainbows appeared everywhere

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Even on flags

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Veterans of past marches sat and sang together

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Even visitors to the city showed their pride

Dyke March


Ecuafest!

May 17, 2009

It was an overcast day and I was heading home when a police officer mentioned that I should stick around because Ecuafest was about to start.

Ecuafest? Ecuawho? Ecuawhat?

The police couldn’t tell me much more, only that they had just been assigned to work at the Ecuadoran parade that would soon head down Central Park West. So I stayed and watched the event from beginning to end.

It was tiny, as parades in New York go: a single vendor selling souvenirs, a couple of dancing groups, a couple of beauty queens, some handful of politicians with sashes across their chests and a couple of vehicles decorated with flags and banners.

The biggest attraction was a man dressed in a summer white suit who was surrounded by bodyguards. His arrival created all the pandemonium the small group of spectators could create, as young and old scrambled to take his photo, obtain his autograph, pose beside him and shake his hand. I didn’t recognize him, but I realized that he was some sort of star. Later I learned that he was Alex Aguinaga, hailed as one of the best Ecuadorian footballers of all time.

The promoters of Ecuafest (I later found it advertised on Craigslist) promised that it would go for two and a half hours, but the entire parade lasted less than half an hour, colorful, peaceful, short and sweet.

Please join us as we celebrate Ecuafest 2009, the third annual observance of the Ecuadorian Independence in the city of New York. The National Ecuadorian Day Parade will initiate this year’s festivities on Sunday, May 17th. Showcasing the largest array of Ecuadorian traditions in the form of dances and colorful floats. It will move along Central Park West from 110th Street to its routes end at the corner of 96th Street from 12:30PM-3:00PM.

QUE VIVA EL ECUADOR!!!!!!!!!!

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Selling souvenirs

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Waiting for the parade to start

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Alone but enthusiastic

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Here come the sashes

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A politician and a pretty girl

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Álex Aguinaga and his bodyguards

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Aguinaga and a fan

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Dancing down the street

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The dance group moves in step

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Young dancers watch a more experienced group

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Beauty queen in an open car

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Skirts swirling in the air

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Men wearing traditional costumes

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A vehicle in the parade

Álex Aguinaga
Ecuafest Web site
Ecuafest on Craigslist


The Howl-o-Ween Parade

October 26, 2008

Once again, Brooklyn is the site of the annual Howl-o-Ween Dog Parade and Contest. Organized by the owners of animal accessory and grooming shop Perfect Paws, the parade is a fund raiser for several animal charities (Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition (BARC), Friends of Hillside Dog Park, Blue Rider Stables and Animal Kind) and a source of amusement to the residents of Brooklyn Heights.

The procession of the animals (and owners) in Halloween costumes began on the Brooklyn Promenade at Remsen Street, where it attracted the attention of astonished tourists, proceeded north, and ended at the judges’ table outside the Harry Chapin Playground at Columbia Heights and Middagh Street.

The parade, now in its sixth year, continues to grow larger and attract more attention. Today’s gathering drew several local reporters, most of them fascinated by the two dogs — accompanied by humans dressed as moose — disguised as Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. While I’m no expert on fashion, I’m guessing that the doggy Sarahs’ wardrobes cost way less than the human Sarah’s, and generated far less controversy, too.

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Judges review a contestant

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NY Giant appeals to the judges

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Greyhound dressed as a greyhound

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I bark for Barack

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Dog disguised as a bumblebee

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Pug in a butterfly suit

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Super hero

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Alice in Wonderland

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Scuba dog

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Scuba dog with family

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Chinese dragon

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French maid guards the prizes

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Spider dog

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Babushka lady

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Neurosurgeon and patient

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Sanitation worker picks up trash

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In a lion suit

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Dog dragon … or maybe dinosaur

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Wonder Woman

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Matching dog and girl ballerinas

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Girl who matches dog ballerina

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Poodle as ballerina

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Chinese dragon with family

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Pirate dog of the Caribbean

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Cow dog and milk carton

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Dog pimp held by “hooker”

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Austin Powers

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Cat flower – the sole feline entrant

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Pirate dog

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Moose holding Sarah Palin

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Moose with Sarah Palin

NY Post: Dog Day for Halloween
Perfect Paws
Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition (BARC)
Friends of Hillside Dog Park
Animal Kind


Mexican Day Parade

September 21, 2008

Most of the year, New York’s Mexican community is nearly invisible. To outsiders, its members appear to be no different than any of the other recently-arrived Latin American immigrants. But today is Mexican residents’ day to shine.

This afternoon the Mexican Day Parade (also known as the Mexican Independence Parade) was held on Madison Avenue between 26th and 42nd Streets. A relatively recent tradition, which celebrates Mexico’s independence from Spain, the annual event began in the 1990s and has grown larger every year.

Today a procession of lowriders (both the automotive and bicycle varieties) roared down the street, followed by floats, marching bands and a large contingent of Bolivian dancers. The weather was perfect, the crowd was enthusiastic, the mariachis played, the women danced and the kids were entranced. It was a great day for vendors selling anything in green, red and white (the colors of the Mexican flag), too.

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Watching the parade

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The queen of the parade

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Young couple

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Viva Mexico headband

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Dancer

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Boy with painted face

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Sitting and watching

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A dancer

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Fascinated

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Girl in the crowd

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Boy holding flag

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Drummers from marching band

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Friends watching together

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Proud papa

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Peeking out from under police barrier

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Holding a mask

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Lowrider family

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Stroller draped with sequined saint

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Dancers leaping

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Mini-Mexican

NY Times: Parade Dispute Is a Rite of Passage for Mexicans


When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

March 17, 2008

In New York City, St. Patrick’s Day is the day that everyone is — or wishes they were — Irish. Fifth Avenue is closed to traffic, the street’s center stripe is painted green, and thousands of marchers, dancers and celebrants make their way up the avenue in the world’s largest celebration of Irish heritage and culture.

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Dancers heading up 5th Avenue

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Pipers walk on the green striped roadway

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Cheerleaders from Utrecht High School

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Family with green hair

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Dublin girl with green eyelashes

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Woman with beer goggles

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Uniformed officers salute the pipers

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Marching band with shining brass

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Friends with green hair

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Mother & son celebrate

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Sisters in faux leopard skin coats

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Wearing a green tam o’ shanter

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Smiling in festive hats

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A band of pipers marching

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Pipers in kilts near 82nd Street

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Man with a drum

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Fisherman’s knit sweater and tweed cap

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Girl from Fordham in tartan plaid

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Friends in green

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Tiny leprauchan around his neck

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Her tiara says “Irish Princess”

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Today everybody is Irish

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Carrying American flags

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Man with green goatee and brows

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Girl with shamrocks

St. Patrick’s Day Parade


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