Bushwick

New York’s only remaining Brooklyn-Queens Day parade

June 6, 2019 Jeffery Harrell
The only parade in the city on Brooklyn-Queens Day kept to a single city block in southern Bushwick. Eagle photo by Jeffery Harrell

Since New York public schools were out of session Thursday for Brooklyn-Queens Day, community leaders held a parade through Bushwick.

The parade is a traditional holdover from the holiday’s 19th-century roots. Brooklyn-Queens Day parades were a borough-wide affair 100 years ago. But today, instead of marching down Bedford Avenue, the only parade in the city on Thursday kept to a single city block in southern Bushwick.

Celeste León, Community Board 4’s district manager, spearheaded the effort. She wasn’t aware of the centuries-old history of parades on the first Thursday of June and the parade has since been rebranded as “Shape Up Bushwick,” a day focused on promoting healthy habits for Bushwick kids.

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The parade is about “community, family, healthiness and mindfulness.” Eagle photo by Jeffery Harrell

But although the celebration is a far cry from the marches led by the Sunday School Union of yesteryear, this cultural relic is still all about celebrating community identity.

“This day is about community, family, healthiness and mindfulness,” said León.

About 100 Bushwick families marched down Knickerbocker Avenue chanting “Shape up Bushwick!”

The procession ended in Irving Square Park, where the community board had provided face-painting, lawn games, free healthy lunches and even a rock climbing wall.

The parade ended with face-painting, food and more. Eagle photo by Jeffery Harrell
The parade ended with face-painting, food and more. Eagle photo by Jeffery Harrell

A raffle was also held, awarding two lucky kids a new neon yellow Huffy bike and a fit-bit to encourage kids to exercise more.


U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez, who represents the area, also made an appearance to celebrate local community leaders, and spoke about the importance of making healthy food in low-income neighborhoods affordable.

“We need to take our health into our own hands.” Velázquez said.

No one made mention of the holiday’s venerable history, but the paraders marched on — unknowingly carrying on a centuries-old tradition.


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