Visiting the Selah Exhibition at the Chesnut Gallery

I recently discovered a hidden gem on Fifth Avenue – the Chesnut Gallery at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. The small gallery is currently host to an exhibition by Bronx-based artist Laura James titled Selah. The artist is known for her religious art, and this exhibition highlights that subject matter. Each painting has a biblical influence and is done in a style similar to the Christian Ethiopian art tradition.

Here are a few of my favorite paintings from the exhibition. First, I was drawn to this painting, titled “Guardian Angel.”

This one is titled “The Original Creation.”

Here’s “Man Born Blind,” another interesting one.

I really enjoyed “Fish for Breakfast.”

I’ll leave you with one last painting, “The Image of Gold and the Fiery Furnace.”

These are just a few of the richly colored, beautifully detailed paintings on exhibit. If you’d like to see Selah for yourself, the paintings are only on exhibition at the church until July 30. The entrance to Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church is located at 7 W. 55th Street, just off of Fifth Avenue.

Central Park’s North End

As much as I love the city, sometimes I need to spend some time in a quieter, slower green space (especially during stressful times like it’s been recently here). Thankfully, that’s possible to find even in the midst of the city. There are some great parks throughout the city, but last weekend I wanted to see if the leaves were changing in Central Park. Most people who visit Central Park visit the southern end of the park (and I’ve previously written about that part of the park here), but the northern end is a hidden gem. That’s where we decided to head this time.

Central Park stretches from 59th Street all the way to 110th Street, and we headed towards the entrance to the park at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue, on the east side of the park. Here, visitors can walk through the Vanderbilt Gate into the Conservatory Garden, one of my favorite sections of Central Park.

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Even though it is Autumn, the conservatory garden still offers a variety of colorful flowers – all with a fall vibe.

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And there are also two special fountains located at opposite parts of the garden. First, there’s this delightful fountain, known as the Burnett Fountain, which can be found in the South Garden. The fountain is a tribute to children’s book author Frances Hodgson Burnett and is surrounded by a lily pond.

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In the North Garden there’s also this vibrant, joyful fountain, known as the Untermyer Fountain.

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Throughout all of Central Park, including the Conservatory Garden, you can find benches where you can sit and take a break. They are great locations for people-watching (and dog-watching, as many locals walk their dogs in Central Park). Many of the benches have been sponsored, and small plaques give information about the sponsorship. (In fact, there’s an entire Instagram account dedicated entirely to sponsored benches: @centralparkbenches)

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The formality of the Conservatory Gardens is restful and appeals to my orderly mind, but the walk doesn’t have to end there. If you continue further north, you will soon stumble upon the Harlem Meer. Across the water sits the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, which offers a variety of special park programming.

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After meandering around the Harlem Meer, if you keep walking you can explore the shaded North Woods. This is one of the hillier parts of the parks, and it periodically offers small clearings with rocks, fallen trees, or benches to rest on. Eventually, you’ll crest the top of the Great Hill, an open area where local New Yorkers play a variety of sports. It’s fun to sit and people watch, and through the trees it’s possible to spy some of the iconic apartment buildings on the city’s Upper West Side. Continue along the path traveling south once again, and there are more waterways, quaint wooden bridges and benches, and fall foliage.

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I think this post would be a good one for Jo’s Monday Walks. If you haven’t checked out Jo’s blog, I recommend it!

NYC’s Pulaski Day Parade

This past weekend was the annual celebration of a long-lasting New York City tradition: the Pulaski Day Parade. Founded 80 years ago, the Pulaski Day Parade celebrates General Casimir Pulaski, an American Revolutionary War hero. After meeting Benjamin Franklin in Paris, the Polish general traveled to North America to fight with the Continental Army against the British. Eventually, after distinguishing himself in support of George Washington’s forces on more than one occasion, the Continental Congress gave Pulaski charge of the first American cavalry. Today, New York City’s Pulaski Day Parade celebrates both Pulaski’s contributions to American independence and Polish-American citizens in the New York City metropolitan area.

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Unsurprisingly, then, the parade begins with this float featuring General Pulaski (or his look-alike).

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This year, the parade’s theme was “Polish-American Youth, in Honor of World Youth Day, Krakow, Poland.” And there were plenty of children and teenagers (as well as adults) in the parade, including some dressed in traditional Polish clothing and Polish scouts.

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Parade float celebrating World Youth Day

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There were also a number of Polish and Polish-American veterans organizations in the parade.

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And, like all parades, bystanders also saw numerous NYC police officers and fire fighters and marching bands.

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A few final miscellaneous photos from this year’s Pulaski Day Parade:

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Honoring Pulaski, who died on October 11, 1779 in the Battle of Savannah, the parade is held in early October each year. The parade marches its way up Fifth Avenue from 39th Street to 56th Street.

NYC’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade 2016

It’s been said that New York City has the largest Puerto Rican population outside of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans certainly are significant part of New York City’s cultural diversity and its residents. In fact, in the 2010 U.S. Census almost 9 percent of New York City’s population was Puerto Rican, and the numbers have continued to grow in the past several years. In celebration of New York City’s Puerto Rican residents, the city hosted the 59th annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 12, 2016.

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Like in almost all New York City parades, the New York Police Department, New York Fire Department, and various other law enforcement and government agencies marched in the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Often, these agencies’ employees have founded their own Hispanic or Latino cultural associations within their respective agencies.

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I particularly liked the vintage police cars and fire engine.

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Many local and state politicians participate in the parade as well, including New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio. Mayor de Blasio is the one in the white shirt, a traditional Puerto Rican shirt, and waiving the Puerto Rican flag. I heard some of the parade bystanders react with pride because of his clothing choice. (Members of the New York City Council, the governor of the State of New York, and numerous other political figures also marched.)

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But the best parts of the parade were the elements of Puerto Rican culture. There were numerous dance groups and folk characters in costume. There were thousands of red, white, and blue Puerto Rican flags waving in the breeze. Most importantly, there were parade marchers and bystanders enjoying themselves and celebrating their heritage, and the energy was contagious!

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This parade has quite a few people marching in support of various political causes and environmental issues in Puerto Rico or in some way involving Puerto Rican people. One of my favorite photos from the parade was of this couple marching with others in opposition to an environmental concern.

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The parade travels north along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, from 44th Street to 79th Street. Central Park stretches along the parade route starting at 59th Street, offering welcome shade for bystanders but some challenges for taking good photos at times.

New York City’s Hispanic Parade

DSC01324If you’re ever looking for something to do in New York City, it’s often possible to find a parade. Our parades celebrate the diversity of our city. They’re great fun, as both participants and observers enjoy themselves tremendously. One of my favorite parades is the Hispanic Day Parade, which is held the Sunday before Columbus Day in October. The parade travels up Fifth Avenue between 44th and 72 Streets. From media coverage of the parade, I learned that the Hispanic Day Parade includes about 10,000 participants and attracts approximately one million spectators each year.

This parade is truly a feast for the senses–people marching in the parade wear vibrantly colored outfits and are consistently accompanied by festive music. It’s not only the parade participants who dance along; even bystanders find themselves moving to the beat. The parade represents cultural organizations in the city with ties to almost every Spanish-speaking country in the world. It reminded me of the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics, with its pageantry and diversity.

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One of the things that makes this parade so spectacular is the incorporation of the folklore and cultural traditions of each country. Countless parade participants were dressed as characters representing those stories and traditions.

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Of course, New York City parades usually include representatives of the police and fire departments, and the Hispanic Parade is no exception. (The parade also has its share of marching bands, colorful floats, and beauty queens!)

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And it wouldn’t be a parade without bagpipes–but this version has Hispanic roots.

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As a final note, the Hispanic Day Parade is a lengthy one, extending for approximately five hours. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes, but you’ll be surprised at how little you look at your watch–this is such an enjoyable parade that the time really flies!

Discovering the German-American Steuben Parade

If you’ve been in New York City for any length of time, you’ve figured out that New Yorkers throw parades for pretty much anything. They’re always a lot of fun, and you never know what you will see when you attend. Last Saturday, I decided to head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Upper East Side. As I approached Fifth Avenue near the Met, I stumbled upon the annual German-American Steuben Parade.

Despite some German heritage far back in my family tree, I’ve never attended the Steuben Parade before. It was a great experience, with parade participants and bystanders equally getting into the festive spirit! As you might expect, there was a lot of lederhosen and other traditional German clothing to be seen at the parade, as well as marching bands and various German cultural institutions participating. While I watched the parade, I took numerous photographs. Here is a sampling of what the parade included:

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DSC00534The parade participants showed that age was no boundary:

DSC00530 DSC00519There were some beautiful banners and flags:

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Somehow a German-American parade needs to have some representative Volkswagen beetles–here’s one from this parade. I particularly like the vintage suitcases on top.

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Of course, every parade needs at least one fire truck, so here it is:

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Finally, in the spirit of New York City, not everything in this parade was German. What would a NYC parade be without some bagpipers?

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Every parade has a background story, and I was curious about this one. From my research, I’ve learned that the first German-American parade was held in Ridgewood, Queens, in 1956. That parade was so successful that the following year the German-American Steuben Parade was organized in Manhattan, and it’s been held each year since. Wondering about the parade’s name? Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was a Prussian general who served with George Washington during the American Revolution and helped to train American troops to fight against the British. If you are interested in learning more about the parade, including next year’s dates, you should check out the parade organization’s website.

I enjoyed the Steuben Parade so much that I’m inspired to find some other parades to watch. Maybe I will see you there!

One place to find out about parades, as well as the road closures associated with them, is on the City of New York’s event website. In addition, the New York City Department of Transportation website lists all road closures in the city each week, including weekends, and there is a specific part of the list for parades and festivals.