South Brooklyn parade organizers respond to cancelations of annual parades, festivals
With Mayor Bill de Blasio canceling all public events through June due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all south Brooklyn events and parades won’t take place this year during its traditional date or format.
Several organizers shared their thoughts of putting their annual traditions on hold.
The 153rd Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade and post-parade memorial service in John Paul Jones Park, scheduled to be held on May 25, was canceled.
Parade Chairperson Raymond Aalbue wrote about the situation on Facebook.
“Most of you probably already know that Mayor de Blasio has cancelled Brooklyn’s 153rd Memorial Day Parade that was to step off on May 25, 2020,” he wrote. “Needless to say the past weeks have been a challenge for all of us coping with COVID-19. Our prayers go out to all those who have contracted the virus, those who have died and their families who must endure that loss. We owe a debt of gratitude to all the caregivers and essential workers on the front lines, our first line of defense during this pandemic. Our lives have been turned upside down, and we don’t know when we will be able to return to what will be a new normal for us. Every year, the parade committee works hard to ensure all those who died in selfless service to our country are not forgotten.”
He added, “I can assure you the United Military Veterans of Kings County will continue to work on the most important parade of the year. Please keep an eye out for any announcements we send out in the future and above all else: Stay Safe and Follow the Rules. LEST WE FORGET.”
Another Bay Ridge tradition, the Norwegian Constitution Day Parade, which was slated to host its 68th year, fell victim to the cancelations. It will delayed by an entire year.
“The 17th of May Norwegian Day Parade Committee has made the decision to hold off on their annual parade until May 16, 2021,” the committee wrote on its website. “This is only the second time since the parade’s inception in 1952, that it has been cancelled. However, with the unprecedented impact the Covid-19 virus is having on the country and the parade’s hometown – NYC, it made sense to make the decision now. Along with the parade we have also cancelled our Dinner Dance and the Church Rally all dated during May.”
“It is not a time for celebration, but mourning, as lives are being lost and our Emergency Workers, many our neighbors, are impacted in such a devastating way,” added Parade Chair Arlene Rutuelo. “We have already begun planning for 2021, when we hope our beloved city has recovered from this unprecedented devastation.” “Then, a celebration will be long overdue.”
The committee added that they hope to host its annual Salty Dog fundraiser in the fall.
The Scandinavian East Coast Museum (SECM) which typically hosts its annual Viking Fest in Owl’s Head Park in May, a day before the neighborhood’s storied Norwegian Day Parade, won’t take place as scheduled but may take place later this year with other traditions of the festival to take place online, according SECM President Victoria Hofmo.
“I had spoken to the Councilman’s Office, in mid-March, about postponing the Viking Fest to October, if it is safe to do so,” she told this paper. “ So, my fingers are crossed. However, I plan to have our Finest Festooned Beard Contest as well as our new Finest Festooned Braids Contest online. This should be fun and we could all use a bit of levity, at this time.”
A Sunset Park favorite, the Boricua Festival, aka Salsa at the Waterfront, which took place in late June last year, will also be missed.
“As announced today by Mayor de Blasio, all large public events for the months of May and June have been cancelled,” wrpte President of the Boricua Festival Committee, Inc. Pat Ruiz. “The 22nd Annual Boricua Festival – Salsa at the Waterfront scheduled for June 27th at Pier 4 in Sunset Park’s waterfront is one of those events that will not take place. We pray that once this virus is over we will all be able to come back together to celebrate life and honor all those people who risk their lives everyday for our safety. We don’t know if it will be at the end of the summer or in the fall or 2021. What’s important now is everyone’s safety. In the meantime stay safe and stay blessed!”
Earlier, this paper reported that the Sunset Park’s Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival won’t take place for the first time since 2014.
“For El Grito, the purpose of our parade began with creating an outlet for parade goers to keep safe and creating that alternate space after the manhattan parade,” El Grito de Sunset Park founder Dennis Flores said. “With that same sentiment, we now need to keep our community safe from this disease, and if that means one way we can make that happen is by not having a parade to keep our community at home, then let that be. That’s a small factor when dealing with a pandemic of this magnitude.”
There is still uncertainty with Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade, according to parade founder Dick Zigun.
“That is up to the mayor and NYPD,” he said during his State of Coney Island Address via Youtube on Sunday, April 26. “When we know, you will know.”
He also announced that playwrights Lynn Nottage and Jeremy O. Harris has been named Queen & King of the 38th Annual Mermaid Parade.
When asked if there would be a parade this year via Twitter, Zigun said, “Either way, whether actual conceptual or virtual now or later.”
He also answered, “Yes! In some point or some format.”
He also hinted at a broadway component.
Sunset Park streets will also be empty when the annual Cinco de Mayo Mother’s Day Festival would typically take place.
Organized past years by Edgar Alvarez, the parade usually starts at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue and makes its way to the park where performances and activities would take place.
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