Panamanian paraders waiting to exhale — holding their breath

Maria McKenzie.
Maria McKenzie, spokesperson for the organizing Day of Independence Committee of Panamanians in New York Inc.
Maria McKenzie

Now that a greenlight was given for the return of the Halloween and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, organizers of the 26th annual Panamanian Day spectacular are breathing easier that their Oct. 9 event in Brooklyn will elude the virtual webcast imposed last year.

“We are ready to leave from Franklin Ave. and follow the usual route to the Brooklyn Museum,” Maria McKenzie, spokesperson for the organizing Day of Independence Committee of Panamanians in New York Inc. (DICPNY) said.

Along with members of the co-ordinating committee, she recently posted a video on their web portal extending invitations to everyone to join the return of the revelry — ‘Desde aqui para alla.”

Translated to English to interpret “from here to there,” McKenzie is seen simultaneously pointedly signaling the directions addressed by the phrase voiced in Spanish.

In a video she explains that the return is slated to begin at 10 am, with the usual array of Panamanian nationals in display of their polleras (traditional dress), guayabera (traditional men’s shirt), tembleques (hair ornaments), escapulario (necklace) straw hats, cuisine, bandanas, and banners.

Back to the streets annually festooned with a two-star, red, white and blue banner in celebration of Panamanian culture, McKenzie and others said despite the many postponements of other parades, the standard bearers of the isthmus remained optimistic that the oldest parade to celebrate the diversity of their heritage would prevail against pandemic fears.

“Even though our parade is always held the day before the Hispanic Day Parade and theirs was cancelled early in the year, we never ever thought our parade would not happen.” “Since last year’s virtual parade, we have held fundraisers, spoken with participants and planned for the return of our annual street celebration.”

Last week DICPNY announced the names of the honored grand marshalls for this year’s procession.

Bishop Eric D. Garnes, Alfonso Rogelio Greaves, Godfather and Godmother Sherwin and Grasiela Johnson and Godfather James Smith DJ Coochie will kick-off the festivities.

Proud of the heritage that connects the English and Spanish speaking Caribbean community, their Puente del Mundo (bridge of the world) mantra will be evident following the downgraded limited WIADCA Labor Day showcase which recently restricted spectators from the Nostrand Ave. start route along Eastern Parkway.

Brookyn Borough President Eric Adams is sandwiched by Panamanians.  Maria McKenzie

Now that positivity rates are spiraling downwards for the coronavirus and its variants, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced the return of the Oct. 31 and Thanksgiving Day traditions.

“We are thrilled to welcome back in its full form the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a world-renowned celebration that ushers in the magic of being in New York City during the holiday season,” the mayor said in a press release.

Will Coss, executive producer of the event amplified the statement saying: “For our 95th celebration, we are delighted to return this cherished holiday tradition closer to its original form as we march down the streets of New York City and into the homes of a nationwide audience.”

According to Mayor de Blasio’s release COVID-19 testing will be in place.

Regardless of vaccination status, all participants and staff will be required to wear face coverings and warranted protective equipment during the Nov. 25 event.

Additionally, a 20 percent reduction of participants will be implemented along with social distancing requirements.

Television viewers can expect the traditional preponderance of marching bands, and Broadway music groups that usually parade along Fifth Ave to the Herald Square 34th St. Macy’s headquarters.

Whether or not crowds will be permitted to view the Wednesday evening, pre-parade inflation of the giant character balloons is undecided.

According to the release, pending an announcement from the mayor, the child-friendly attraction remains “under consideration.”

Prior to the holiday parade, the Village Halloween Parade is slated to return for the 48th year.

Although funding and support from sponsors are below the budgeted requirement, the lively revelry will challenge masqueraders to display the most creative facial coverings while showcasing viewpoints often controversial, politically-laced and trans-gender based.

“It’s just in my bloodstream,” Jeanne Fleming, artistic and producing director of the parade said.

“I’m committed to this parade because I see it as a spiritual act for the soul of New York City.”

She justified the return of the Halloween tradition saying: “I keep reading about Broadway returning. I’ve been thinking in my mind that the parade is live Broadway in the streets.”

Anyone who has seen the theatrics displayed throughout lower Manhattan’s most non traditional parade might agree.

“They are hungry to perform as any Broadway actor is.”

Fleming added that comedian Randy Rainbow will be this year’s Grand Marshall.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s second biggest parade promises another multi-lingual treat with beauty queens, marching bands and colorful indigenous Indian Molas (embroidered fabric) amongst the lacy Spanish motifs as well as other Caribbean accoutrements.

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