Summer Guide 2024: Parades

| 14 May 2024 | 02:16

Puerto Rican Day Parade – Sunday June 9

While no sane reporter would dare name any one parade as “the best”—they are all great in their respective ways—there is surely no more passionate New York celebration than the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Should one know this joyous day only as an unusually controversial 1998 episode of Seinfeld, attendance at some point along the route 5th Avenue from 43rd to 79th Streets mandatory. The theme for this year’s 67th anniversary parade is Boricua de Corazón (Puerto Rican at Heart). Among its many honorees are the event’s Madrina, Lisa Velez of 1980s hip-hop hitmakers, Lisa Lisa Cult Jam; journalist and writer, Ana Teresa Toro; filmmaker and artist Glorimar Marrero-Sánchez; filmmaker Rafi Mercado. Honored with the title of Orgullo Puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican Pride) is cellist, conductor and composer Emilio Colón, while tribute will also be paid to numerous folkloric dancing groups including BombaYo; Bombabo Dance Company; Danza Fiesta; and Pleneros de la 21 from New York City; Escuela de Bomba Tata Cepeda from Kissimmee, Florida; and Areyto Ballet Folklórico Nacional from San Juan, Puerto Rico.


NYC Pride Parade – Sunday June 30

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the theme of this year’s event “Reflect. Empower. Unite.” – a call the event’s organizers hope resonates with the amalgamated LGBTQIA+ population it represents. Unlike most Manhattan parades which travel south to north, Pride inverts that tradition by wending its way downtown from 5th Avenue and 25th Madison Square to Christopher Street and 7th Avenue site of historic Stonewall Rebellion of late June and early July 1969. A number of other events coincide with the parade proper, including PrideFest street fair, a Youth Pride celebration, and a Queer dance party, TEAZE. For history minded New Yorkers interested in the parade’s pre-Pride roots, George Chauncey’s “Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940”—available at multiple NYPL branches— is highly recommended


Independence Day Parade – Thursday July 4

Their mind on vacation or East River fireworks to come later that evening, many people don’t realize Manhattan has an Independence Day Parade. Thanks to the Lower Manhattan Historic Association, however, it does, reviving a tradition that ended in the 1970s and reminding everyone of the central role that New York played in the Revolutionary War, including the August 26, 1776 Battle of Long Island, during which General George Washington led the defeated Continental Army from Brooklyn to Manhattan so that they could fight another day. The event starts at the Castle Clinton National Monument in Battery Park with a flag raising ceremony, from where parade marchers will head to Pier 16 at South Street Seaport. At some point in the day, consider visiting the nearby Fraunces Tavern Museum at 54 Pearl Street, at Broad Street, which played numerous important roles both before and after the Revolution.


Bastille Day – Sunday July 14

Madison Avenue from 59th to 63rd Streets, 12 PM – 5 PM

America owes much to the French—J. Hector St. Jean De Crèvecœur; Alexis de Tocqueville and especially, during the Revolutionary War, Major General Marquis de Lafayette—so why not return the favor and joint the French in their national holiday commemorating the 14 July 1789 storming of the Bastille? This year’s New York celebration is special for a number of reasons. First, it occurs on the actual date the Bastille was taken, instead of being moved to the Sunday before or after. Second, there’s an interesting mountain stage in Tour de France to watch that morning. Third is the growing excitement over the 2024 Paris Olympics which begin on July 26. Although not a parade per se, the French Institute Alliance Française organized street fair on Madison Avenue, including food, performances, kids activities is pretty close. For those who can’t make it or have Francophile passions to spare, bop over to the Carroll Gardens / Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, whose substantial French émigré population has added a real “Little France” flavor to the area including cafes, bakeries, and many French speaking children.


Dominican Day Parade – Sunday August 11

The summer’s other major Hispanic parade, the 42nd annual Dominican Day Parade is another can’t miss event for lovers of the red, white, blue. A celebration of Dominican culture generally (as opposed to any specific date in history), the event runs up 6th Avenue from 36th to 52nd streets and features stunning costumes, vigorous dancing and infectiously ebullient spirits. Among this year’s more than two dozen ambassadors and honorees are lawyer Doralyn De Dios, President of the Dominican Bar Association; Carlos J. Rodriguez, M.D., cardiologist and professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine; and master accordionist, Arsenio De La Rosa, aka “El Maestro.” For even more celebration, parade goers are encouraged to head uptown to heavily Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights, where celebrations continue through the evening.