NYC’s Tartan Day Parade

New York City’s Tartan Day Parade doesn’t have the long history of many of the city’s parades, but it has interesting origins. According to the New York City Tartan Week organizers,

In 1998 the U.S. Senate declared April 6 to be National Tartan Day to recognize the contributions made by Scottish-Americans to the United States. In 1999, two pipe bands and a small but enthusiastic group of Scottish Americans marched from the British Consulate to the UN—our first Parade! Since then, we have grown to include hundreds of pipers, thousands of marchers and many more thousands cheering from the sidelines.

The National Tartan Day New York Committee was formed … in 2002 to organize the Parade and co-ordinate all the associated activities which surround the Parade. There are now so many it has become Tartan Week, with a definition of “week” as anything, so far, from 7-21 days.

Now that we know why they’re marching, let’s watch the parade! As you’ll see, there are plenty of tartans, bagpipes, and drums – although not everyone is wearing plaid. One of the fun things about this parade is that some pipe and drum corps will allow unaffiliated bagpipers to march with them, as long as they can play the 4 songs required for the parade: Scotland the Brave, Rowan tree, Blue Bells of Scotland, and Bonnie Prince Charlie. The sun was shining brightly, so please forgive the lighting in some of these shots.

Now for one of my favorite parts of the parade: the Scottie and Westie dogs!

As we were leaving, I spied this creature peeking out above the crowd – could it possibly be Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster?

A Carnival of Flowers at Macy’s

One of the sure signs of Spring in New York City is the Macy’s Flower Show. The show, which has a different theme each year, first began in 1946. This year’s theme was “Carnival.”

There are two major parts to the Flower Show. First, even before you enter the department store, there are the elaborately decorated windows. (Forgive the reflections on the windows – it’s hard to take good photos in the light!)

Having admired the windows outside, let’s go through the main entrance to see what we find inside. There’s plenty more to see, although we’ll have to navigate the crowds if we want to take any photos. As we come upon the carousel, you can hear the organ playing a tune and the animals rise up and down.

Isn’t this fun? Make sure to look up as well. There are flowers and scenes scattered high and low throughout the first floor, so much that your senses are overloaded.

Want to join in the fun? Put your head in the holes and pose for a photo! Look! We caught someone doing that very thing!

Or maybe posing before a fun house mirror is more your thing.

Unfortunately, the show is already over – so if you want to see it for yourself, you will have to visit next year! In New York City, the Flower Show is at the Macy’s Herald Square location (touted as the largest department store in the world), but it’s held at the Chicago and San Francisco stores as well. Want to see what last year’s show looked like? I wrote about it here.

New Yorkers Rallying in Solidarity with Their Neighbors

Our new president’s policies towards immigrants has been troubling for many New Yorkers. After all, the United States is a nation of immigrants – and nowhere is that more evident than New York City. In the past month, there have been numerous rallies and marches in the city in protest against those policies. Last weekend, there was a solidarity rally in support of our Muslim neighbors, coworkers, and friends. Called I Am a Muslim Too, the rally brought together people of every race, religion, and background.

There was such a positive spirit at the rally, which took place in the streets near Times Square. I took these photos at the event, and I think they capture some of its rich diversity.

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May I just say that this rally, like the other rallies and marches I’ve attended in New York City, was such a positive, inspiring experience. New York City values its citizens’ First Amendment free speech rights, and officials regularly give out permits for rallies and other forms of protest. The mayor and several city council members actually spoke at the I Am a Muslim Too rally, emphasizing the message that this is a city that welcomes all.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year in Flushing, Queens

New York City has the largest Asian-American population in the United States (at latest count approximately 12% of the city’s 8 million residents), so it’s unsurprising that the city is host to numerous Lunar New Year events. Most tourists attend Lunar New Year events in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood, but other boroughs also hold Lunar New Year parades and other celebrations. This year, I decided to watch the Lunar New Year parade in Flushing, Queens. Over half of the Asian-American population lives in the borough of Queens, and Flushing is home to a second Chinatown.

The parade may not be quite so grand as the one in Manhattan, but it was a wonderful celebration of the community. My favorite things in the parade were the brightly colored dragons – they always drew cheers from the crowds as well.

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There were also some child-sized dragons. See what I saw inside the dragon’s head?

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Here are some of the marchers in the parade, dressed in various traditional costumes.

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On a serious note, there was also this brightly decorated car, accompanied by people carrying signs about domestic violence. They were marching with a community organization that provides support for victims of domestic violence.

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Finally, there were plenty of people in various stuffed costumes, from a character from a cartoon to buddhas – and let’s not forget the roosters, as this year is the year of the rooster!

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Want to explore Flushing’s Chinatown for yourself? Take the 7 train all the way to the end of the line, to the Flushing-Main Street station. When you come above ground, you will be in the midst of Chinatown.

Dispatch from the Women’s March on NYC

Today was a day of marching and protest across the United States – people in other cities around the world marched in solidarity with us. One of the largest marches was here in New York City, and I was privileged to participate in the march. I don’t normally talk about things like this on the blog, but I think it very much fits with the blog’s overall theme. Today yet again I discovered another aspect of my city’s character, and it made me proud to say that I am a New Yorker.

Today’s march was certainly in opposition to the new President, but it was more. It was a statement by women (and the men who marched with them in support) that they demand to be heard. They demand that their rights be protected and their interests be prioritized by the government. The march was a call to action, and I’m hopeful we’ll see people engage in the future with the issues they marched for today.

I took a lot of photos of the march today, and I think that they give a good glimpse of the diversity of people and issues associated with the march.

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I’ve heard estimates that 250,000 people or more marched in the New York City parade alone, although I haven’t been able to verify that number yet. I do know that the march was peaceful, coordinated with city leaders and the New York Police Department, and lasted all day long.

One Last Look at NYC’s Holiday Windows: Bloomingdale’s

So, I know I’m late posting this, but I really wanted to show everyone some photos I took of Bloomingdale’s department store windows during the 2016 holiday season. The theme for Bloomingdale’s windows this year was “Light,” and artists were invited to create chandeliers embodying that theme. During the exhibition, the chandeliers were auctioned off and the money donated to a children’s charity.

So here are the chandeliers, reflecting the artists’ very different approaches to the common theme. This first one is titled “Sparkle,” by artist Allison Eden.

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The close-up shot shows the three-dimensional details of both the chandelier and the tile mosaic aquatic background.

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This next one is titled “Brilliant,” by artist Susanne Bartsch.

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This mirrored chandelier is titled “Luminescence,” by artist Sean Augustine March.

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Here’s “Moon Glow,” by artist Abby Modell.

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This window was titled “Aura,” a collaboration between artists Erika DeVries and Jonah Meyer.

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In this window, artist Inma Barrero utilized clay, porcelain, metal, glass, and wood to create “Reflections.” And this one really did reflect the light, making it challenging to photograph!

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With that last photo, I’ll officially close the door on the 2016 holiday season – but I can hardly wait to see what the department stores do in 2017!

Reflective Accident: NYC Architecture and Bergdorf Goodman Windows

I hadn’t had the chance to check out Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday windows, so after Christmas dinner we headed off to check them out. I wanted to get photos of the windows to post on the blog, as last year’s Bergdorf Goodman windows were spectacular. (You can see last year’s windows here.) According to David Hoey, Senior Director of Visual Presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, “The windows are like magical realist versions of natural history museum dioramas.”

Unfortunately, there was still too much daylight when I took my photos. As a result of the sunlight, I wasn’t able to capture clear photos of the window displays. But when I later looked at the photos on my computer, I found some unexpected results – reflections of neighboring buildings partially obscuring what is behind the glass. I thought that the results made for some interesting images. You’ll have to tell me what you think!

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Wonder what the windows look like without the reflections? Click here to see Bergdorf Goodman’s reveal of this year’s holiday windows.

Unique Holiday Windows at NYC’s High School of Fashion Industries

I’ve written before about the incredible variety of of department store holiday windows on display across New York City during the month of December (here and here), but I recently found out about a set of windows I had never heard about before – they’re found at the High School of Fashion Industries. Students at the school worked with the creative ambassador for Barneys New York, Simon Doonan, to design and build the window displays.

The students chose not to stick to a holiday theme for their designs, instead focusing each window on an iconic woman musician, artist, or model. There are six windows in all, honoring Joan Jett, Beyonce, Celia Cruz, Madonna, Dolly Parton, and Grace Jones. I think they are imaginative and delightful.

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While I was viewing the windows, I also noticed this set of beautiful mosaics above the school’s entrance.

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Want to see the windows at the High School of Fashion Industries yourself? The school is located at 225 W. 24th Street in Manhattan, between 7th and 8th Avenues. (The closest subway stations are the 23rd Street stations. The 1 train or E and C train stations are very close – it’s a little further walk if you take the F, M, R, or W trains to their 23rd Street stations.) In my research about the school, I discovered that they actually create windows 4 times each year, so it’s not just a holiday thing. And, as a bonus, you are just a short walk up 7th Avenue to the Fashion Institute of Technology’s free museum, a hidden gem I’ve previously written about here.

Lord & Taylor’s Holiday Windows 2016: Enchanted Forest

New York City is a magical place during the holiday season, and those seeking activities to put themselves in the Christmas spirit can find endless activities to enjoy. Of course there are the Christmas trees at locations like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History, which I’ve featured before here and here. But both New York City residents and visitors alike always look forward to the department store holiday windows, wondering what each store’s them will be for the current season. One of my favorites this year is Lord & Taylor’s Enchanted Forest, a delightful set of windows that appeals to both adults and children. Here are some of the photos I took of the Enchanted Forest recently.

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If you are in New York City for the holidays, I encourage you to check the Lord & Taylor windows out. They are even better in person, especially with the animation and moving figures! Lord & Taylor is located on Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets, just a short distance from Bryant Park and the iconic New York Public Library building. It is easily accessible by subway or bus.

Celebrating Diwali at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tomorrow is Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Each year, there are numerous celebrations of Diwali in New York City. Last year, one of those celebrations took place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I stumbled upon it during a visit to the museum. Although the museum is not hosting a Diwali celebration this year (at least, I haven’t been able to find anything about it if it is), I thought that revisiting last year’s festival activities would be a great way to celebrate the holiday this weekend.

To celebrate Diwali, the Met offered numerous activities, including henna painting, lantern-making, and children’s dance activities. I met some visitors who were willing to share their experiences with me, as you can see from these photos.

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In one room, children were being taught some traditional dance steps – guaranteed to burn off some youthful energy, and fun to watch!

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There was also a dance performance, difficult to capture in photographs because of the crowds, dark light, and fast movement, but so beautiful.

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One of the benefits of hosting this event in the Met Museum is the proximity to a wonderful collection of Indian art. I made sure to explore some of it while I was there, and here are photos of a few of my discoveries.

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And don’t forget to look up!

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Although the Met Museum may not be holding Diwali festivities this year, I recommend visiting to see its Indian and Southeast Asian art collections, which are primarily located on the second floor of the museum. There’s also a small special exhibition of Indian art on display at the Met through December 4, 2016: Poetry and Devotion in Indian Painting: Two Decades of Collecting. More information about that exhibition is available here.