The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years since it began as a small neighborhood “promenade” and has become one of the largest Halloween events in the world, was themed UPSIDE/DOWN, reflecting the tumult of the last few years, and inviting self-reflection.
“The Halloween Parade has always been a night of transformation, but this topsy turvy year feels even more-so in terms of realizing a dream, being who you are most authentically in your imagination,” said Jeanne Fleming, Artistic and Producing Director.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators packed the streets along the mile-long parade route from Canal Street to 16th Street along Sixth Avenue, to thrill at hundreds of puppets, 50 bands representing music from around the world, dancers, artists, and thousands of other New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation in the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world – the biggest crowds since 2019.
“I’m astonished by how many people are here,” said a justifiably proud and delighted Fleming. “We invite people to come out and they did!”
Spectators thrilled at seeing hundreds of puppets, 50 bands and dancers representing music from around the world and New York’s melting pot, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation, in the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world.
Started by Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee in 1973, the Parade began as a walk from house to house in his neighborhood for his children and their friends.
After the second year of this local promenade, Theater for the New City stepped in and produced the event on a larger scale as part of their City in the Streets program.
Today the Parade is the largest celebration of its kind in the world and has been picked by Festivals International as “The Best Event in the World” for October 31.
Now, 50 years later, the Parade draws more than 70,000 costumed participants and some 2 million spectators, including television-viewing audience, live on NY1 beginning at 8 pm.
In 1994, the Mayor of the City of New York issued a Proclamation honoring the Village Halloween Parade for 20 years of bringing everyone in the City together in a joyful and creative way and being a boon to the economic life of the City. “New York is the world’s capital of creativity and entertainment. The Village Halloween Parade presents the single greatest opportunity for all New Yorkers to exhibit their creativity in an event that is one-of-a-kind, unique and memorable every year. New Yorkers of all ages love Halloween, and this delightful event enables them to enjoy it every year and join in with their own special contributions. The Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village is a true cultural treasure.”
The irony is that while Halloween is about taking on a completely different persona, at the Village Halloween Parade, we see New Yorkers’ true selves.
And that’s true to the Upside/Down-Inside/Out theme.
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
New York City’s summer cultural season kicks off with the 45th Annual Museum Mile Festival – the Big Apple’s “biggest block party” –on Tuesday, June 13, from 6 to 9 pm, rain or shine. Walk the mile on Fifth Avenue between 82nd Street and 104th Street while visiting eight of New York City’s finest cultural institutions, open free during these extended hours: The Africa Center, El Museo del Barrio, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Jewish Museum, Neue Galerie and the Museum of the City of New York (which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year). It’s an electric, eclectic festive atmosphere, with live music and street performers all along the avenue, plus special exhibitions, works from permanent collections and special family-oriented activities inside.
It is also an opportunity to see the major exhibits underway throughout the summer:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Van Gogh’s Cypresses, thru August 27: Vincent van Gogh’s most famous artworks, Wheat Field with Cypresses and The Starry Night, take center stage at Van Gogh’s Cypresses, the first exhibition to focus on the trees immortalized by one of the most beloved artists of our time. Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beautythru July 16, highlighting the designer’s body of work spanning from the 1950s to his final collection in 2019, the show will have approximately 150 pieces on display.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: Sarah Sze: Timelapse thru September 10: For this solo exhibition, Sarah Sze created a series of site-specific installations that weave a trail of discovery through multiple spaces of the Guggenheim’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright building.
100th Anniversary of The Museum of the City of New York: The museum has amassed a collection of over 750,000 objects including photographs, prints, costumes, paintings and more to celebrate, document and interpret the City’s past, present and soon-to-be-announced future. These major exhibits are on view: This Is New York: 100 Years of the City in Art and Pop Culture exhibit explores how the City has served as a muse for storytelling over the past century; through a variety of mediums such as film, music, literature and visual arts, the exhibit presents a diverse and engaging portrayal of NYC. Food in New York: Bigger Than the Plate, thru September 17, highlights the City’s raucous and diverse food culture all while examining the various challenges of NYC’s food systems. From sustainability to equitable access to food, the exhibition explores the ways artists and designers are creating solutions to address the global and local challenges we face when it comes to the food system.
El Museo del Barrio: Something Beautiful: Reframing La Colección, thru March 10, 2024. One of El Museo del Barrio’s most ambitious presentations to date features a complex and culturally diverse permanent collection of 500 artworks, including artist commissions and acquisitions, focusing on the contributions of Amerindian, African and European cultures, through rotating displays over the course of a year.
The Museum Mile Festival is just the first of a whole series of festivals, special events, cultural happenings that make the city hot, hot, hot, or cool man, really cool. Here’s a roundup:
The New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, have become an iconic New York summer experience since they began in 1965, transforming parks throughout the city into a patchwork of picnickers enjoying friends, family, and music under the stars, for free! This summer Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts two iconic masterpieces — Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man — plus a potpourri of overtures by Rossini and J. Strauss II, and works by NY Phil Very Young Composers. June 13, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx; June 14, Central Park, Manhattan; June 15, Cunningham Park, Queens; June 16, Prospect Park, Brooklyn; – these concerts begin at 8 pm followed by fireworks. Also, June 18, Staten Island at 4 pm. For weather and updates, call Concert Info Hotline at 212-875-5709, https://nyphil.org/
Shakespeare in the Park presents: Hamlet by The Public Theater, Delacorte Theater, Central Park, Manhattan, June 8–August 6, 2023 directed by Tony Award–winner Kenny Leon and featuring Tony Award–nominee Ato Blankson-Wood in the title role. Same-day tickets can be obtained by lining up (early) at The Delacorte or at a borough distribution site (2 tix pp), or by an in-person lottery in the lobby of The Public Theater at 425 Lafayette Street, or through a digital lottery via the TodayTix mobile app or website. A limited number of advance reservation tickets can be had by making a contribution in support of Free Shakespeare in the Park. Info at 212-967-7555 or visit publictheater.org.
More free Shakespeare! New York Classical theater company is performing Shakespeare’s Richard III, Tuesday through Sunday, 7-9 pm (Central Park West & 103 St., June 13-25); Brooklyn Commons (Myrtle Avenue & Bridge Streets, June 27-July 2) and Carl Schurz Park (East 87th St., July 4-9). You can also watch the rehearsals taking place in Central Park, 10 am-3:30 pm Tuesdays through Sundays until June 9. (You can also watch the rehearsals taking place in Central Park, 10 am-3:30 pm Tuesdays through Sundays until June 9.) Make a FREE reservation and receive pre-show notice of weather cancellations at https://nyclassical.org/richardiii.
Jazz Age Lawn Party, now celebrating its 18th year, is one of the world’s most authentic Prohibition-era-inspired gathering, taking place this year June 10-11 and August 12-13, on Governor’s Island. Hosted by Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, one of the world’s premier Jazz Age dance orchestras, specializing in the Hot Jazz of the 1920s. Featuring Dreamland Follies, a ten-lady Art Deco dance spectacle evoking the great Ziegfeld; Queen Esther; Peter Mintun; Gelber & Manning band; Roddy Caravella and The Canarsie Wobblers, with their scandalous Charleston numbers and rebellious and exuberant spirit of Roaring ‘20s youth. Plus dance lessons, bathing beauty contest. Purchase tickets in advance. Governor’s Island (a getaway destination in itself), reached by ferry from Lower Manhattan (Battery Maritime Building located at 10 South Street, adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry)and Brooklyn. (https://jazzagelawnparty.com/)
Free Summer Programming at Little Island, Chelsea, Manhattan, June 7–September 3: The award-winning public park on the Hudson River Greenway, hosts an array of free programming including performances from Tony-, Grammy-, and Emmy Award–winners and nominees; drag bingo; DJs; dance parties; Teen Night; Broadway performances.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!, Brooklyn, June 7–August 24, celebrates its 45th anniversary, with a lineup of artists from around the world honoring the diversity of Brooklyn and the broader BRIC community. This year’s lineup includes Corinne Bailey Rae, Kelela, Liv.e, Robert Glasper, NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge).
Bargemusic free concerts, Saturdays, 4 pm through August, Music in Motion” Series — a one hour performance (no intermission), including a Q & A session with the musicians. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1; close to the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn (https://www.bargemusic.org/admission-free-concerts/).
Forest Hills Stadium’s 100th Anniversary Concert Lineup, Forest Hills, Queens, thru September 30: music and comedy performances from some of the biggest names in music and entertainment, including The Strokes, Fall Out Boy, Kevin Hart, Steve Lacy, LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells Festival, Duran Duran, Maggie Rogers, Toro y Moi, Weezer, Arctic Monkeys, LCD Soundsystem, Dave Matthews Band.
Carnegie Hall Citywide, Citywide, June 9–August 4: Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the beloved free concert series highlights renowned local artists from an array of musical genres.
SummerStage 2023, Citywide, June 3–September 30: now in its 37th season, hosting free and benefit live performances in 13 parks across the five boroughs from a range of musical genres including salsa, jazz, country, opera, Afrobeats, hip hop. The annual concert series will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with concerts featuring artists from NYC.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition, Herald Square, Manhattan, opened May 2023 for a limited time: Fans can celebrate Harry Potter and the entire Wizarding World with the most comprehensive touring exhibit in world. Featuring favorite moments, props, costumes, characters, and locations, the exhibition delights visitors with powerful storytelling married with interactive technology to explore iconic film scenes, creatures and characters from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films as well as the Tony Award–winning Broadway production Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Harry Potter™: Tickets (for timed entry, but you can stay as long as you want) start at $29 for adults. 50 W. 34th Street (34th Street and Broadway). www.harrypotterexhibition.com. (See: IMMERSIVE WORLD OF HARRY POTTER EXHIBITION ENCHANTS NEW YORK BUT ONLY FOR LIMITED TIME)
Africa Fashion at Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, June 23–October 22 180 works celebrating the global impact of African fashions from the 1950s to present day; 180 works are presented.
Gardens & Works by Ebony G. Pattersonat New York Botanical Garden, The Bronx, thru September 17: known for her lavishly detailed mixed media installations, this major site-specific exhibition showcases her breathtaking and provocative displays of art and nature.
Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch at National Museum of the American Indian, Lower Manhattan, through January 1, 2024, examines and celebrate more than 50 years of Shelley Niro’s paintings, photographs, films and more. Filled with humor and references to pop culture, the exhibition offers a glimpse into the artist’s timeless cultural knowledge and generational history of her Six Nations Kanyen’kehá:ka (Mohawk) community.
Hispanic Society of America,Washington Heights, Manhattan, reopens its Main Building June 2023 after six years of renovations and improvements. Since 1904, the museum has been the home to over 750,000 objects including rare books and masterpieces from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries.
Armstrong Corona Campus (formerly the Louis Armstrong House),Corona, Queens, Summer 2023, after undergoing a physical and programmatic expansion debuts a new cultural center with an interactive exhibit, archival collections, a 75-seat performance venue and store, all dedicated to celebrating and preserving the life and legacy of the legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong.
Ukrainian Institute of America, Upper East Side, Manhattan, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art, music and literature of Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora, celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2023.
Malibu Barbie Café New York, The Seaport, Manhattan, thru September 15: Barbie fans will be transported to a 1970s Malibu California café filled with the beloved doll’s signature colors and casual, family-friendly fare including Pacific Paradise Pancakes, West Coast Wedge Salad and a California Dreamin’ Club Sandwich, all made by Master Chef finalist Chef Becky Brown. The pop-up will also be complete with photo ops inspired by Malibu Barbie including a life-size doll box, exclusive merchandise and more.
Under Cover: J.C. Leyendecker and American Masculinityat New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, Upper West Side, Manhattan, thru August 13 explores the work of J.C. Leyendecker, a prominent American illustrator, and his influence on shaping ideals of masculinity in the early 20th century. Through a collection of his iconic magazine covers, the exhibit examines Leyendecker’s depictions of stylish, confident and athletic men, highlighting their impact on shaping cultural perceptions of masculinity during that time.
Craft Front & Center: Exploring the Permanent Collection at Museum of Arts and Design, Columbus Circle, Manhattan, thru January 14, 2024, featuring a collection of over 3,500 objects, as well as a fresh installation of more than 60 historic works and new acquisitions dating from the golden age of the American Craft movement to the present day.
Yayoi Kusama: I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowersat David Zwirner Gallery, Chelsea, Manhattan, thru July 21: In one of her largest gallery exhibitions to date, celebrated contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama features new paintings, sculptures, flowers, and an Infinity Mirrored Room.
Oceanic, Portalat Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, Soho, Manhattan, thru August 13, through various mediums and perspectives, the exhibit invites viewers to contemplate the fluidity, liberation and transformative power represented by the vastness of the ocean and its connection to LGBTQ+ identities.
Vulnerable Landscapesat Staten Island Museum, Randall Manor, Staten Island, thru December 30, highlights the Staten Island shorelines at the forefront of climate change in NYC, examining the past while navigating the route forward.
Darrel Ellis: Regenerationat The Bronx Museum of the Arts, South Bronx, thru September 10, the first comprehensive, scholarly survey of pioneering artist Darrel Ellis, the exhibition highlights Ellis’s body of work that combines painting, printmaking, photography and drawing before his untimely passing in 1992, co-organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art,
Uniquely NYC Tours
Brooklyn Chocolate Tour – A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, Brooklyn: Enjoy chocolates from some of the finest traditional and artisanal chocolates out of Brooklyn on this recently resumed tour. Guests can learn more about the history of chocolate and watch demonstrations as they explore many of the borough’s most beloved chocolate shops, including the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, The Chocolate Room, Raaka Chocolate and Li-Lac Chocolates.
Sustainable Harlem – Like a Local Tours, Harlem, Manhattan: support hyper-local and community-based organizations in the historic neighborhood of Harlem with this socially impactful tour. Guests will learn about many of the sustainable movements within Harlem and the people behind them such as the New York Fair Trade Coalition at the Sustainable Fashion Community Center, Simone from Green and Blue Eco Care and more.
Culinary Tour in Washington Heights – MAD Tours & Events, Washington Heights, Manhattan: Explore this culturally rich neighborhood (featured in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights”) on a special food tour. Known as one of Manhattan’s Latino hubs, Washington Heights is home to some of the City’s best Dominican, Mexican, and Cuban food.
Food Cart Tour: Jackson Heights – Turnstile Tours, Jackson Heights, Queens: Explore many of the local flavors in one of the City’s most diverse neighborhoods right in the heart of Queens on a two-hour walking and tasting tour. Sample delicious favorites from around the world while learning more about the people and organizations helping the City’s street vendors continue to thrive.
Retail Store Tours, Brooklyn & Manhattan: Explore the driving forces changing the retail landscape and the best of retail innovation in this two-hour tour led by industry professionals.
New York City Borough Pass, Citywide: a new sightseeing pass designed to showcase the beauty of the neighborhoods and cultures across all five boroughs. The pass features a diverse roster of popular attractions, museums, performing arts venues, including the Alice Austen House Museum, MoMA PS1, New York Botanical Garden, Van Cortlandt House Museum, Staten Island Children’s Museum.
The Go City Pass for New York City offers 100 different options in all five boroughs. For example, the two-day all inclusive pass, giving access to as much as you want/can do from among 105 attractions is $134 – regardless of how much the actual attractions charge (GoCity.com, 800 887 9103).
The grand finale to New York’s summer sensations: US Open Tennis Championships, Corona, Queens, August 28–September 10: It begins with US Open Fan Week, August 23-28, when the grounds are open to the public with free admission, so you can watch the (thrilling) US Open Qualifying Tournament, watch open practices of the tennis stars, and additional scheduled exhibitions. This year, there is the first ever US Open Food Event Thursday August 25, 2022, 7pm-9pm; special appearances by athletes like former Top 5 ATP Player James Blake, and entertainment. (https://www.usopen.org/)
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
Capacity, if not record crowds are expected for this year’s Memorial Day Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, Long Island, a combination of ideal weather and the US Air Force Thunderbirds headlining a crowd-pleasing lineup of aviation and aerobatic attractions.
The thrilling line-up also includes The United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team will make their 17th appearance; the U.S. Navy F-35C Tac Demonstration Team; US Navy Growler (F-18 Super Hornet), the only electric attack aircraft; the U.S. Coast Guard, and the 106th Rescue Wing NY Air National Guard HC – 130 / HH 60 Demonstration Team.
We also get to witness the daring do of Jessy Panzer, a renowned female aerobatic pilot, flying for her second time at Jones Beach in a bi-plane; three of the American Air Power Museum’s flying fleet of Warbirds; the SUNY Farmingdale State College Flying Rams; Long Island’s own David Windmiller; and Mike Goulian, the most decorated aerobatic pilot in North America, and my personal favorite, the Skytypers who have been in every Jones Beach Air Show since 2004.
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 2022 New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, made a triumphant return to Central Park on Wednesday, June 15, marking the return of the beloved series following two years of cancellations due to the pandemic. It was the second of four free outdoor concerts conducted by Music Director Jaap van Zweden – the first had taken place at Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx on June 14, followed by Cunningham Park, Queens (June 16); and Prospect Park, Brooklyn (June 17). All four outdoor performances conclude with a fireworks display.
The stunning program includes Wagner’s Prelude to Act I of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with a masterful performance by Bomsori Kim as soloist, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7, and works by New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers: 14- year-old Naama Rolnick’s Keep Walking, who wrote her sensational piece at the age of 10 and who flew in from her home in Israel to enjoy hearing it played by the New York Philharmonic, and 17-year-old Alexander Rothschild Douaihy’s thrilling “A Human Rhapsody,’ which he composed at the age of 15.
In addition, Musicians from the New York Philharmonic are perform inga Free Indoor Concert, on Sunday, June 19, 2022, at 4 p.m., at St. George Theatre in Staten Island. (Tickets are free but required.)
“Like so many New Yorkers, Didi and I missed tremendously the Concerts in the Parks these past two summers,” said Philharmonic Chairman Emeritus Oscar S. Schafer. “We love the parks, and we love this orchestra, so we’ve been eagerly awaiting their return. We look forward to seeing people come together in these beautiful parks across the boroughs to enjoy magnificent music performed by this virtuosic orchestra. It will truly mean that New York City is back!”
“What a joy to be returning to the Parks of New York after two years of not being able to perform for the Parks’ audiences,” said Music Director Jaap van Zweden. “Music speaks to our hearts better than any language, and the New York Philharmonic players and I cannot wait to reconnect with the thousands and thousands of people throughout the Boroughs of New York who come to the Parks to hear us.”
“We are so excited to welcome back the New York Philharmonic for the iconic Concerts in the Parks series!” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “This series brings together people from all backgrounds to enjoy world class music for free, in some of our most picturesque parks — this is summer in New York at its best!”
The New York Philharmonic’s free parks concerts have become an iconic New York summer experience since they began in 1965, transforming parks throughout the New York area into a patchwork of picnickers, and providing music lovers with an opportunity to enjoy “priceless music absolutely free, under the stars”. More than 15 million listeners have been delighted by the performances since their inception. All programs are subject to change.
Here are more photo highlights from the Central Park performance:
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The US Navy Blue Angels were the headliners at the 2022 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, over Memorial Day weekend, performing their heart-stopping maneuvers in their F/A-18 Super Hornets.
The Blue Angels were formed in 1946 by Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz, who had a vision to create a flight exhibition team to raise the public’s interest in naval aviation and boost Navy morale (and likely Congressional funding). In the 1940’s, the demonstration team thrilled audiences with precision combat maneuvers in the F6 Hellcat, the F8 Bearcat and the F9 Panther. During the 1950’s, they flew their aerobatic maneuvers in the F9 Cougar and F-11 Tiger and introduced the first six-plane delta formation, still flown to this day. By the end of the 1960’s, the team was flying the F-4 Phantom, the only two seat aircraft flown by the delta formation. In 1974, the Blue Angels transitioned to the A-4 Skyhawk, a smaller and lighter aircraft with a tighter turning radius allowing for a more dynamic flight demonstration. In 1986, the Blue Angels celebrated its 40th Anniversary by unveiling the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet. In 2021, the team began flying its current aircraft, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and celebrated its 75th anniversary.
A total of 17 officers voluntarily serve with the Blue Angels at one time, according to the Blue Angels’ website www.blueangels.navy.mil/. Each year the team typically selects three tactical (fighter or fighter/attack) jet pilots, two support officers and one Marine Corps C-130 pilot to relieve departing members. They typically serve two years with the team and then return to the fleet after their tours of duty.
Who gets selected? “The Chief of Naval Air Training selects the “Boss,” the Blue Angels Commanding Officer. Boss must have at least 3,000 tactical jet flight-hours and have commanded a tactical jet squadron. The Commanding Officer flies the Number 1 jet. The Chief of Naval Air Training also selects the “XO,” the Blue Angels Executive Officer. XO is a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) or Naval Aviator with at least 1,750 flight-hours.
“Career-oriented Navy and Marine Corps jet pilots with an aircraft carrier qualification and a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet flight-hours are eligible for positions flying jets Number 2 through 7. The Events Coordinator, Number 8, is a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) or Naval Aviator who has finished their first tour. The Marine Corps pilots flying the C-130J Hercules aircraft, affectionately known as “Fat Albert,” must be aircraft commander qualified with at least 1,200 flight hours.
“The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the teamwork and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps through flight demonstrations and community outreach while inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country.”
Just about every two years, the Blue Angels come to the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach to thrill audiences. This year, they performed in front of a capacity crowd of 181,000. Here are photo highlights.
The Blue Angels typically alternate with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds who are scheduled to headline 2023 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach next Memorial Day weekend.
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
A capacity crowd of 181,000 turned out at Jones Beach State Park for the 2022 Bethpage Air Show on Sunday, May 29 (after the Saturday show was all but cancelled due to poor weather).
Viewers were thrilled to see The United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team making their 16th appearance at Jones Beach, military performers including the Air Combat Command F-22 Raptor, the U.S. Navy F-35C Tac Demonstration Team, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the 106th Rescue Wing NY Air National Guard HC – 130 / HH 60 Demonstration Team.
They witnessed the daring do of Jessy Panzer, a renowned female aerobatic pilot, flying for her second time at Jones Beach in a bi-plane; three of the American Air Power Museum’s flying fleet of Warbirds; the SUNY Farmingdale State College Flying Rams; Long Island’s own David Windmiller; and Mike Goulian, the most decorated aerobatic pilot in North America.
Also, the world-famous Skytypers, who are based at Republic Airport (and basically invented and patented skytyping) demonstrated thrilling combat maneuvers in their flight squadron of five vintage WWII aircraft.
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
On an absolutely perfect, sunny spring day when New York City is at its absolute best, the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, the world’s largest charity bike ride, returned to its full strength: 32,000 cyclists, hailing from all 50 states and 32 countries, got to 40 miles of car-free streets across all the city’s five boroughs.
In addition to being the largest bike ride in the United States, it’s the most diverse and inclusive ride in the world – with people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, said Bike New York CEO Ken Podziba.
The sheer joy and delight – omnipresent for the ride – was particularly exuberant this year for the 44th edition of the bike tour after a hiatus in 2020 and last year’s (held in August instead of May) limited capacity of 20,000.
Cheerleaders, bands, banners and signs, marquees greeted and cheered on the riders as they made their way up through Manhattan, into the Bronx, back into Manhattan, down the FDR Drive (a personal favorite), over the Queensborough Bridge (what a view!) into Queens and along the revitalized waterfront, then over another bridge into Brooklyn, onto the highway and over the Verrazano’s one-mile expanse, into Staten Island to the Finish Festival at Empire Outlets on Staten Island’s North Shore, before taking one of New York City’s best rides back to Manhattan, the Staten Island Ferry (and in my case, a delightful ride up the Hudson River Greenway).
What is so special about New York City’s TD Five Boro Bike Tour is how, for one day, you and 32,000 of your closest friends, feel like you own the city. The streets, bridges and highways – like Sixth Avenue, the FDR Drive, the Queensborough Bridge, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Verrazano (the longest suspension bridge in the Americas) are your domain. It makes you giddy. Neighborhoods – so colorful, with their distinctive personalities and character, ring with sound and spirit – Greenwich Village, Harlem, Astoria, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, DUMBO, Staten Island’s north shore. Central Park’s blossoms seem to burst open just for us.
Some 1,200 volunteers – captains, marshalls, EMTs, bike repair people, people who hand out snacks and refill water bottles – add to the Big Apple-sized welcome riders receive.
The annual event raises money for bike education. Bike New York operates bike education centers, after school programs, summer camps, as well as its first membership program.
Numerous charities also use the event for fundraising, purchasing registrations which participants then raise money against.
The ride is designed to be a family friendly tour, not a competition, appealing to all abilities, ages – volunteers hold signs to slow the pace and alert riders to turns and obstacles.
TD Bank has been the title sponsor for the past 16 years; Manhattan Portage was the presenting sponsor.
Among the dignitaries on hand to send the cyclists off: Ken Podziba, President & CEO of Bike New York; Andrew Bregenzer, Regional President of Metro NY – TD Bank; Su-Hwei Lin, CEO of Manhattan Portage; New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez; Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine; NYC Council Members Christopher Marte and Lincoln Restler; and representatives from Prosecco Cycling, including Italian elected officials.
More information about events and programs offered by Bike New York at bike.nyc.
The timing of Old Westbury Gardens’ “Shimmering Solstice” debut could not be more perfect, as people craving holiday cheer in winter’s darkness are looking for outdoor experiences to share. Old Westbury Gardens’ first-ever light show walk, presented by Catholic Health, opened November 20 and runs through January 9, 2022.
Words like “magical” and “enchanting” are in oversupply during the holiday season, but are most apt in this case. Indeed, the effect is to feel a little like Alice discovering Wonderland, a dreamscape of beauty – there are even giant dandelions of light.
The walk-through, immersive experience was developed out of a desire to creatively adapt the land and gardens around Westbury House into a visitor location that can be enjoyed during the fall and winter holiday season and that would remain consistent with the mission of Old Westbury Gardens, on the famed Gold Coast of Long Island, New York.
In fact, the historic site – the stunning Gilded Age mansion and formal gardens of John S. Phipps and his wife, Margarita Grace Phipps, which was opened to the public in 1959 by their daughter, Peggie – has been looking to offer just such a winter experience for 10 years. Over that time, the technology has advanced – LED lights, computer-synchronization – to create the experience they wanted: one that enhances and celebrates the gardens and architecture, giving visitors a new way to appreciate them.
“This is a celebration of our space,” said Maura McGoldrick-Brush, Director of Horticulture at Old Westbury Gardens. “Instead of flowers, the gardens will be blooming with light. This is truly an enchanting combination of the beauty of the gardens and the magic of the season.”
Old Westbury Gardens worked with Lightswitch, a collective of internationally recognized lighting, media, and visual designers to create a show that would celebrate and cherish the Gardens’ history and environment during the fall and winter seasons.
“Shimmering Solstice” is a completely custom-built show that has been specifically designed to highlight the features of Old Westbury Gardens. Lightswitch’s assignment was to “truly embrace the gardens” and use the gardens and water features and architectural elements to stunning effect. It took a year and a half to plan “Shimmering Solstice.”
The formal Rose Garden and Walled Garden bloom with beautiful light and twinkle in lively rhythmic patterns, beautiful paths lead you through to the South Lawn and Allée. Giant dandelions line the edge of the pond and a Christmas tree made entirely of lit globes decorates the front of Westbury House.
There are interactive features as well, such as a “Simon” set up where you push buttons to alter the color patterns, a labyrinth and a maze of lights, and immersive features, where you walk amid the lights, even a “Ghost Walk”.
The grand finale is a sound and light show celebrating the seasons and holidays, in which the mansion itself is the canvas with musical accompaniment including Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and classical holiday music.
It is beautifully spaced and there are paths geared for strollers and wheelchairs. In all, you walk about a mile and visit at your own pace (typically 60-75 minutes to really enjoy).
“We are excited to offer this brand-new experience for our visitors to enjoy,” said Nancy Costopulos, President and CEO of Old Westbury Gardens. “This walk-through lightshow has been designed specifically for Old Westbury Gardens and offers a one-of-a-kind experience that we intend to become a new annual holiday tradition. We are also thrilled to have Catholic Health as our presenting sponsor for this inaugural event. Their commitment to the communities they serve mirrors our own, and we welcome their support as we bring this spectacular event to Long Island.”
A selection of hot foods, hot and cold beverages and snacks is available in a tent.
This is the first season, but there are already plans to expand in future years, said Paul Hunchak, Director of Visitor Services, Programs and Services. “We were looking for things to do in this season. We always wanted outdoor light show.”
The event is organized to be COVID19-safe – tickets must be purchased in advance online and they space admissions.
Tickets for Shimmering Soltice must be purchased online in advance; priced by peak and off peak, from $29.95-32.95/adult, $16.95-17.95/child. Senior Discounts on Off-Peak Mondays (ages 62+) $24.95; an Any time/Any Day Experience is $75. (closed Dec. 24-25, Jan. 4); Entry times are every 15 minutes, from 5:30-9:30 pm. (last entry is at 9:30 pm – great for a date!). Purchase at https://shimmeringsolstice.com/.
Old Westbury Gardens, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the former home of John S. Phipps, his wife, Margarita Grace Phipps and their four children. Completed in 1906 by the English artist and designer, George A. Crawley, the magnificent Charles II-style mansion is nestled amid 200 acres of formal gardens, landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds and lakes. Westbury House is furnished with fine English antiques and decorative arts from the more than 50 years of the family’s residence.
John S. Phipps was the son of Henry Phipps, Jr., an American entrepreneur and a partner with Andrew Carnegie (a childhood friend of Henry’s) in the Carnegie Steel Company. Henry was also a successful real estate investor (he invested heavily in Cape Cod and Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida; his mansion in Lake Success has become the Great Neck Public Schools administration building and the grounds the South schools campus). After selling his stock in Carnegie Steel, Henry devoted time and money to philanthropic works.
After her parents, Margarita and John S. Phipps, passed away, their daughter Peggie inherited the Old Westbury estate and, in 1959, formed a nonprofit charity to open the grounds to the public to honor the memory of her mother and share the beauty of the 216 acres of gardens, fields and woodlands.
Visitors today experience the grounds and gardens, which remain largely untouched from the Phipps era, with many English-style perennials and biennials preserved. There are rare plant species—including foxgloves, delphiniums – not usually found in public gardens. These plants have been well-maintained for decades by the dedicated horticulture staff, which grow many of the herbaceous plant material right on-site in the private greenhouse, preserving the original vision of John S. Phipps’ and George Crawley.
New York City is again the Polar Express, the Grand Central, the Times Square of holiday happenings and festivities. Locals and visitors from across the country and around the globe will enjoy holiday traditions and cultural experiences across New York City’s five boroughs, many returning for in-person participation for the first time in two years. There is endless enjoyment including iconic classics such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes and NYC Ballet’s Nutcracker, festive shopping at NYC’s famous department stores, ice-skating rinks, lighting displays, cultural performances, and special holiday exhibitions such as the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden. But to get the most enjoyment of indoor activities, proof of vaccination will be required.
Even the world-famous New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop returns December 31 to Times Square, Manhattan. The Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball will sparkle in Times Square all season, but its descent on New Year’s Eve is a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime way to ring in the New Year. Vaccinated spectators are welcomed back in-person. Guests can also stop by the New Year’s Eve Confetti Wishing Wall from December 1 on to submit (in person and online) a wish for the New Year on a piece of official NYE confetti that will be dropped at midnight as the ball drops.
Here’s a roundup from NYC & Company, the city’s tourism promotion agency:
Live Broadway Performances at Hudson Yards, November 15-December 13, Hudson Yards, Manhattan: Enjoy a weekly series of free, live performances from Broadway’s biggest hit shows at Hudson Yards every Monday. Cast members will sing songs from productions including Aladdin, Dear Evan Hansen, The Lion King, Moulin Rouge!, Chicago.
“‘Twas the Night Before…” by Cirque du Soleil is returning to Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, for 28 performances from December 9 through December 27, 2021. The exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas tale is about the wonders of sharing and friendship. The production marks Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever Christmas show and is a flurry of Christmas cheer – rip-roaring fun with hugely lovable characters that will introduce audiences to the magic of Cirque du Soleil and help families create new holiday traditions (purchase tickets online at www.msg.com/cirque).
The Christmas Show at St. George’s Theatre, December 10–12, St. George, Staten Island:The famous theater presents its annual Christmas Show, a two-hour production filled with high energy and a rhinestone-studded series of songs and dances.
The Magic Flute Holiday Presentation at The Met Opera, December 10–January 5, Upper East Side, Manhattan: The Met’s abridged, English-language version of Mozart’s magical fairy tale is a classic holiday treat for audiences of all ages, bringing the charming story and enchanting music to life.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at The Joyce Theatre, December 14–January 2 | Chelsea, Manhattan: The beloved all-male drag ballet troupe returns for an uproarious holiday season, taking the stage for three weeks of nonstop skilled pointe work and hilarious parodying of classical holiday-themed ballet inspired by Jerome Robbins’ In the Night.
New York Philharmonic’s Handel’s Messiah at The Riverside Church, December 14–18, Manhattan: Grammy Award-winning Baroque specialist Jeannette Sorrell conducts the Philharmonic on this holiday piece including dazzling vocal solos, instrumentals and coral writing, in the neo-Gothic glory of Riverside Church, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Presents Big Band Holidays, December 15–19, Manhattan: With soulful big band arrangements of songs both sacred and secular, the Big Band Holidays series at the Rose Theater is an uplifting tradition enjoyed by audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
WINTER EXHIBITIONS AND CULTURAL EVENTS
Times Square Holiday Show Globes, through December 26, Times Square, Manhattan: See large snow globe displays inspired by the designs of hit Broadway shows including Wicked, Ain’t Too Proud, The Lion King and Dear Evan Hansen.
Fifth Avenue Holiday Installation at the Pulitzer Fountain, November 17–January 7, Midtown Manhattan: Fifth Avenue welcomes the holiday season with 32 handcrafted-in-Brooklyn animal sculptures across from the Plaza Hotel, 5,000 feet of lighting, an ice-skating rink and 24 handmade icebergs surrounding the Pulitzer Fountain, with orchestrated music from composer Paul Brill.
Pinkmas at Museum of Ice Cream New York City, November 18–January 9, Soho, Manhattan: Museum of Ice Cream’s annual holiday celebration, Pinkmas, will transform its 13 multisensory installations into a pink winter wonderland bursting with snowflakes, candy canes and pink trees. Guests are encouraged to bring a new toy – to be donated to Toys for Tots—in exchange for one scoop of ice cream at the museum café.
Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden, November 20–January 23, Fordham, the Bronx: The City’s beloved holiday tradition returns for its 30th year with a miniature wonderland in the warmth of the Haupt Conservatory. Marvel at model trains as they zip through an enchanting display of more than 175 famous New York landmarks, all re-created from natural materials such as pine cones, acorns and seeds.
Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at the Met, November 23–January 9, Upper East Side, Manhattan: A NYC tradition, the Met’s Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche exhibition—an adorned tree with a nativity scene around its base—comes from a collection of 18th-century Neapolitan figures donated by American artist and collector Loretta Hines Howard in 1964.
The Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History, November 24 through holiday season, Upper West Side, Manhattan: The delightfully decorated 13-foot Origami Holiday Tree, celebrating its 50th anniversary, will have a Gems of the Museum theme, featuring 50 specially created gold-colored models for the “golden anniversary.”
Seaport District NYC Celebrations, Throughout the holiday season, Seaport District NYC, Manhattan: Historic cobblestone streets of the Seaport District and Pier 17 turn into the ultimate destination for holiday celebrations.
Shine Bright at Hudson Yards: Throughout the holiday season, Hudson Yards, Manhattan: Two million twinkling lights, 725 evergreen trees, 16-foot-tall hot-air balloons arranged throughout the Public Square and Gardens, and a 32-foot-tall hot-air balloon centerpiece suspended in The Great Room of The Shops.
NYC Winter Lantern Festival: Escape, through January 9, North Shore, Staten Island: Back at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden for its third year, enjoy over eight acres of luminescence—an immersive world of light—live DJ, projection mapping, food vendors.
Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, November 19–January 9, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn: Explore the Garden after dark at the illuminated Lightscape which will celebrate the beauty of nature with an enchanting one-mile trail through BBG’s 52-acre landscape. Enjoy the Winter Cathedral tunnel, Fire Garden and Sea of Light, as well as new site-specific light works by local artists, accompanied by a curated soundtrack.
Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo, November 19–January 9, Fordham, the Bronx: Immersive light displays, custom-designed animal lanterns and animated light shows sparkle across the zoo. The celebration is complete with festive entertainment, seasonal treats and classic holiday music.
NYBG GLOW, 25 select nights; November 24–January 22, Bronx Park, the Bronx: Discover the beauty of New York Botanical Garden through GLOW, which will illuminate the garden’s landmark landscape and historic buildings after dark with a newly expanded 1.5-mile colorful experience.
NYC Winter Lantern Festival: Illuminate the Farm, November 25–January 9, Queens County Farm Museum, Queens: For this first time, the NYC Winter Lantern Festival will transform Queens County Farm into an immersive and radiant oasis with festive lights and handmade lanterns in the shape of flowers, tractors, farm animals and more.
Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights, December 1–31, Dyker Heights, Brooklyn: Experience the extravagant Christmas light displays known as “Dyker Lights.” This guided bus tour, departing from Manhattan, offers visitors a special experience to view the uniquely decorated homes, learn about the history and stories of the neighborhood tradition.
ICE SKATING RINKS
The Rink at Rockefeller Center, throughout the holiday season, Rockefeller Center, Manhattan. World-famous ice-skating rink now open for visitors to skate under the iconic Christmas tree, a quintessential NYC experience. Santa joins on the ice from December 4-24.
The Rink at Bryant Park, through March 6, Bryant Park, Manhattan: Enjoy the City’s free 17,000-square-foot outdoor ice-skating rink at Bryant Park’s Winter Village. Visitors can also enjoy the Holiday Shops, free shows, events, activities, and eats and drinks at The Lodge.
In partnership with NYC & Company, the following flagship department stores are offering special “It’s Time for Shopping” gifts with $100+ purchases, to celebrate the return of in-person shopping, beginning on Black Friday, November 26, through Boxing Day, December 26.
Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show, Midtown Manhattan: Saks Fifth Avenue’s classic Holiday Window and Light Show begins November 23. The flagship is home to a holiday market this year inspired by European open-air markers, offering special gifts, holiday décor, food, and more. Open daily, the market comes to life each Saturday, with an array of activities including street-side activations, artisans, interactive happenings, and more. Shoppers can redeem a travel pouch by providing proof of a $100+ purchase from the Holiday Market at the International Lounge on the lower level and mentioning “NYCGO.”
Bloomingdales, Upper East Side, Manhattan: “Give Happy” this season with special offerings including holiday windows; a Ralph Lauren immersive ski chalet experience featuring exclusive products; a “Happy Together Again” pop-up offering a Nespresso bar with complimentary beverages to fuel holiday shopping; and Santaland. Shoppers can redeem a limited-edition gift by providing proof of a $100+ purchase at the Visitors Center on 1 Level Balcony and mentioning “NYCGO.” A complimentary hotel delivery is also available for purchases of $250+.
Macy’s Herald Square, Midtown Manhattan: Visit the iconic store to explore a curated assortment of the best in fashion, fragrance, toys through a new partnership with Toys R Us, and more; enjoy a meet and greet with Santa; and marvel at Macy’s iconic Broadway windows—this year’s theme features the story of Tiptoe, a bright-eyed reindeer pursuing the ultimate dream, joining Santa’s sleigh team and delivering magic around the world on Christmas Eve. Shoppers can redeem a gift by providing proof of a $100+ purchase to the Macy’s Visitor Center on the mezzanine level and mentioning “NYCGO.”
Nordstrom NYC, Midtown Manhattan: “Make Merry” with three festive pop-up shops, including the Holiday Gift Shop, Pop-In@Nordstrom, and new Concepts@Nordstrom, Concept 015: Make It Bazaar. Free gift wrapping, Santa snacks, in-store pick-up, the “Santa Snow Show,” lighting, holiday décor. Shoppers can redeem a bag of beauty items by providing proof of any $100+ beauty purchase at the Beauty Concierge in the Beauty Hall, as well as a 15% discount on beauty and wellness services at Beauty Haven when mentioning “NYCGO.”
SHOP LOCAL BUSINESSES AND POP-UPS
Brooklyn Flea Holiday Market, Sundays, through December 19, Dumbo, Brooklyn: local holiday shopping featuring vintage and antique items, crafts and gourmet food stands.
Tiffany & Co. West Village Pop-Up, through January 8, West Village, Manhattan: The iconic jewelry store pop-up is located in the heart of the West Village, offering shoppers a series of holiday-themed activities such as hand-painting Tiffany gift boxes and holiday cards, calligraphy, poetry readings, and more.
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, through January 2, Bryant Park, Manhattan: This year, the European-style Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park opened earlier than ever to commence the festive season, with must-buy gifts, sweets, drinks and winter activities.
Union Square Holiday Market, November 18–December 24, Union Square, Manhattan: Urbanspace’s longest running holiday market will return this year with over 150 vendors and a partnership with NYC’s unofficial talent scout, Nick “New York Nico” Heller, to curate a special booth of rotating budding entrepreneurs for one week.
Columbus Circle Holiday Market, November 29–December 24, Columbus Circle, Manhattan: Art, jewelry, home goods and delicious eats from local artisans and designers, all while roaming through NYC’s iconic Central Park.
FAD Holiday Market, December 4–5, 11–12, 18–19, Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill, Brooklyn: Two holiday market locations in Brooklyn’s BoCoCa (Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens): The Invisible Dog Art Center on Bergen Street in Boerum Hill and St. Paul’s Church on Court Street in Cobble Hill.
Shop at Grand Central Terminal, Saturdays, December 4–24, Midtown Manhattan: Up to five gifts purchased at the shops wrapped free of charge in a choice of Grand Central–themed wrapping paper, which includes the terminal’s iconic constellation ceiling, and placed in a complimentary, exclusive and reusable Grand Central Terminal tote bag.
HOLIDAYS ON THE WATER
Classic Harbor Line Holiday Themed Cruises, throughout holiday season, Manhattan: Enjoy four-course holiday brunch cruises, a cocoa and carols cruise, and more holiday themes, while sailing across the East and Hudson Rivers with views of the NYC skyline and Lady Liberty.
City Cruises Holiday Themed Cruises, throughout holiday season, Manhattan: Enjoy a NYC Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Year’s dining cruise, among others, featuring festive décor, meals, and stunning views of the City while sailing across the East and Hudson Rivers from the glass-enclosed deck.
Home for the Holidays at the Loews Regency New York Hotel, through December 30, Upper East Side, Manhattan: Enjoy accommodations on Manhattan’s famed Upper East Side, steps from the City’s coveted holiday attractions, with this offer including a food and beverage credit that can be used at The Regency Bar & Grill, gift card to neighboring Bloomingdale’s and a festive welcome amenity.
Holidays at The Plaza, November 25–January 9, Midtown Manhattan: Enjoy afternoon tea at The Palm Court at The Plaza, an iconic destination for holiday festivities, as well as Santa Clause visits, the Home Alone 2 experience and one-of-a-kind gifts at the Eloise Pop-Up.
A Very Vintage Christmas at The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue, December 1-31, Midtown Manhattan” Junior Suite decked with a decorated Christmas tree (with option to ship personal ornaments and stockings beforehand) and custom Christmas treats, plus four tickets to the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes and transportation in a vintage taxi, a horse and carriage ride around Central Park, and more (minimum two-night stay). The hotel will donate 10% of the proceeds to the Food Bank of New York City.
Create Custom Fragrances at Conrad New York Midtown, December 2, 9, 16, 23, Midtown Manhattan: Create a custom scent to gift to loved ones this season in the Conrad New York Midtown’s cozy library room, with an Olfactory NYC pop-up offering a selection of six core fragrances and dozens of accords to design a custom scent. Guests staying at the property will receive 20% off.
Intercontinental New York Barclay Holiday Choirs, December 13, 14, 15, 16, Midtown East: The hotel is hosting live choral music in the lobby this season, beginning on Monday, December 13 with PS 150 Queens, followed by Long Island Gay Men’s Chorus on December 14, Canticum Novum Singers on December 15, and Village Light Opera on December 16.
OUTDOOR IGLOOS AND CABINS
City Winery at Rockefeller Center, throughout the holiday season, Rockefeller Center, Manhattan: views of the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, open daily (reservations through Resy).
The Greens Rooftop at Pier 17, throughout the holiday season, Seaport District NYC, Manhattan: The Rooftop at Pier 17 debuts the newest rendition of The Greens winter cabins, open seven days a week.
Igloo Bar at 230 Fifth, through April 15, Rockefeller Center, Manhattan: a winter oasis at 17 igloos with close-up views of the Empire State Building (advanced bookings recommended).
New York City’s Key to NYC program requires people ages 12 and older to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 for most indoor activities, including at restaurants, event spaces, venues, museums, attractions and more. Individuals must have received at least one dose of an FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine to patronize these establishments. More information can be found in the City’s FAQ.
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is looking pretty good for 95. The joyful spectacle returned to the streets of New York City this Thanksgiving after 2020’s hiatus to usher in the start of the holiday season with its signature mix of giant character helium balloons, fantastic floats, stirring marching bands, jubilant performance groups, whimsical clowns, music stars. The climax, of course, is Santa Claus, whose jubilant ride in his stocked sleigh brings such joy to adults and children alike, it’s like watching a wave flow through the hundreds of thousands who turned out to line the 2.5 mile parade route from 77th Street and Central Park West, to Central Park South, and down Avenue of the Americas to and 34th Street and the final turn to end at Macy’s Herald Square.
“For more than nine decades, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has served to bring joy to millions, who gather with friends and family to experience this one-of-a-kind holiday celebration along the streets of New York City and in homes nationwide,” said Will Coss, Executive Producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “For our 95th celebration, Macy’s has created a spectacle to remember featuring a dazzling array of high-flying balloons, animated floats and incredible performers. We can’t wait to help New York City and the nation kick-off the holiday season with the return of this cherished tradition.”
The 95th annual Macy’s Parade featured 15 giant character balloons, 28 floats, 36 novelty and heritage inflatables, more than 800 clowns, 10 marching bands and 9 performance groups, a host of musical stars, and, of course, the one-and-only Santa Claus.
To safely produce the annual Thanksgiving Day event, Macy’s once again partnered closely with the City and State of New York to create a production plan that would ensure health and safety practices aligned with CDC guidelines, as well as current local and state government protocols.
Stars on Parade
The Macy’s Parade is always the holiday’s biggest stage for entertainment and this year was no different. Joining the festivities were aespa, Jimmie Allen, Jon Batiste, Blue’s Clues & You! host Josh Dela Cruz and the former hosts of Blue’s Clues Steve Burns and Donovan Patton, Kristin Chenoweth, Darren Criss, Jordan Fisher, Foreigner, the cast of Peacock’s Girls5eva (Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell, Busy Philipps), Andy Grammer, Mickey Guyton, Chris Lane, Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier, the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street®, Nelly, Kim Petras, Kelly Rowland, Rob Thomas, Carrie Underwood, Tai Verdes, Zoe Wees, and Tauren Wells.
Since 1927 the world’s most popular characters have been transformed into high-flying art in the sky. Inspired by marionettes, the Parade’s balloons first debuted as upside down puppets filled with air and carried on sticks, before taking flight with the addition of helium. Over time the inflatables morphed to encompass balloonheads, hybrid inflatables with vehicles inside (balloonicles) and tandem tricycles (trycaloons).
New giants joining the line-up this year include Ada Twist, Scientist by Netflix; a Funko Pop! inspired Grogu™ (a.k.a. Baby Yoda in pop culture) from the Star Wars™series “The Mandalorian™,” Ronald McDonald® by McDonald’s® and Pikachu™ & Eevee™ by The Pokémon International Company.
Making return appearances to the skies above New York City are giant balloon favorites including Astronaut Snoopy by Peanuts Worldwide; The Boss Baby by DreamWorks Animation and Universal Pictures; Diary of A Wimpy Kid® by Abrams Books; Sinclair’s DINO® by Sinclair Oil Corporation; Goku by Toei Animations, Inc.; Chase from PAW Patrol® by Nickelodeon; Pillsbury Doughboy™ by Pillsbury™; Red Titan from “Ryan’s World” by Sunlight Entertainment and pocket.watch; Papa Smurf from The Smurfs by Nickelodeon; Sonic the Hedgehog by SEGA; and SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon.
The inflatable lineup also includes Sinclair’s Baby DINOs and the Go Bowling™balloonicles; Smokey Bear by the U.S.D.A. Forest Service; and Macy’s very own special reindeer Tiptoe and Toni the Bandleader Bear.
Floats of Fantasy
From its inception, the Parade’s floats have transported spectators to magical worlds. These initial whimsical creations focused on nursery rhyme stories. Today the floats are multi-level animated wonders that dazzle with their artistry. Conceived and crafted by the incredible artisans of Macy’s Parade Studio – a design and production facility that includes carpenters, engineers, electricians, painters, animators, balloon technicians, sculptors, metal fabricators, scenic and costume designers – this year’s line-up of floats showcased the best of theatrical design.
While they are built for entertainment, they are also a showcase of creative design, engineering, and skillful construction. To spectators they seem to float down the route, even though many are three stories tall and several lanes of traffic wide stages. However, if you dig a little deeper, the magic is revealed as each of these amazing floats are built to collapse to no more than 12 ½-feet tall and 8-feet wide to travel safely from the New Jersey home of the Parade Studio to the Manhattan starting line via the Lincoln Tunnel for the annual celebration.
This year six new floats will debut including Birds of a Feather Stream Together by Peacock® (cast of Peacock’s Girls5eva); Celebration Gator by Louisiana Office of Tourism (Jon Batiste); Colossal Wave of Wonder by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions (Nelly); Gravy Pirates by HEINZ; Magic Meets the Sea by Disney Cruise Line (Jordan Fisher and special guests); and Tiptoe’s North Pole.
The returning float roster and its scheduled performers included 1-2-3 Sesame Street® by Sesame Workshop™ (The cast and Muppets of Sesame Street); Big City Cheer by Spirit of America Productions (Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier); Big Turkey Spectacular by Jennie-O (Tai Verdes); Blue’s Clues & You! by Nickelodeon (Josh Dela Cruz, Steve Burns and Donovan Patton); The Brick-changer by The LEGO Group (Zoe Wees); Christmas in Town Square by Lifetime® (Kelly Rowland); Deck the Halls by Balsam Hill® (Kristin Chenoweth); Elf Pets® by The Lumistella Company; Everyone’s Favorite Bake Shop by Entenmann’s® (Andy Grammer); Fantasy Chocolate Factory by Kinder™ (Darren Criss); Harvest in the Valley by Green Giant® (Jimmie Allen); Heartwarming Holiday Countdown by Hallmark Channel (Rob Thomas); Her Future is STEM-Sational by Olay (aespa); Home Sweet Home by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (Tauren Wells); Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree (Macy’s Choir); Mount Rushmore’s American Pride by South Dakota Department of Tourism (Chris Lane); Rexy in the City by COACH® (Kim Petras); Santa Express and Starflakes by Universal Orlando Resort; Santa’s Sleigh (Santa Claus); Tom Turkey; Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life (Foreigner) and Winning Winter Together by MassMutual and NHL® (Mickey Guyton).
Also, Geoffrey, the beloved mascot of Toys”R”Us, made a special appearance down the route.
The Beat and the Pageantry
The nation’s best marching bands brought the beat to the holiday revelry. Joining the line-up were The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders (Austin, TX), Brownsburg High School (Brownsburg, IN), Centerville High School (Centerville, OH), Hampton University (Hampton, VA), Lincoln-Way High School (Frankfort, IL), Macy’s Great American Marching Band (United States), NYPD Marching Band (New York, NY), Trabuco Hills High School (Mission Viejo, CA), Union High School (Tulsa, Oklahoma), and University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL).
Taking entertainment to the next level were the Parade’s beloved performance groups who bring joy to spectators along the route and viewers watching from home. The 95th Parade featured the dazzling dancers of Ballet Hispánico’s School of Dance, the harmonious voices of the Broadway Education Alliance Youth Choir, the fancy footwork of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios, the special tributaries of Indigenous Direction, the out of the world skills of J.U.M.P. (Jumpers United for Macy’s Parade), the razzle dazzle of the St. John’s Dance Team, the energetic Spirit of America Cheer and Spirit of America Dance Stars, and the moving voices of the Young People’s Chorus of NYC.