Carpe Diem NYC!
Recently, our culinary school was recruited to march in this year’s Columbus Day parade. Going 30 blocks up New York’s famous 5th Avenue, the annual spectacle is usually attended by over a million people along with thousands of participants. Of course, when someone asks you to participate in a huge parade, you can’t pass up such a random and entertaining opportunity!
On arrival at a pre-planned meeting spot, both myself and a number of other fellow classmates arrived in full chef gear ready to rock and roll. Parked on a side street with many other performers, the float we were to be part of was for New York’s TV personality, Ornella Fado. A local celebrity to the Italian community, Ornella is the creator and hostess of a weekly half hour TV program about the Italian culture and food, called “Brindiamo!“, which means “let’s toast.” With the show’s primary focus on New York’s Italian food scene, the float itself was built to look like a vineyard with a stage hosting two performing opera singers, Ornella, and her entourage of loyal followers. Our role was to be part of a small army of chefs who walked and waved alongside of the Brindiamo float as it drove through the parade.
After watching Ornella talk to the media and a bit of waiting, we were finally given the OK to move and begin our march up 5th Avenue. Strutting around one of the city’s most famous streets with so many spectators was a very unique experience. Of particular interest was the ability to take a stroll up the middle of 5th Avenue, which, on a non-parade day, would typically involve playing a game of frogger with the crazy NYC taxis. Lined with thousands of police officers and gates to keep people from spilling onto the street, you could tell that a lot of infrastructure and logistics went into this event.
As we walked, smiled and waved alongside of the float, I’ll admit I felt a little silly and self-conscious with all the fanfare. But with the crowd and music playing, it was hard not to get into the moment and feel the excitement in the air. So many people were lined up against the road happily cheering and waving flags as you marched by, and I imagine it was probably a bit of a similar sensation to running in a marathon, minus having to do any hard work.
So what was the day like overall you might ask? Well, between the music from the opera singers, strutting and waving action, I felt just like the cheesy but hilarious “Mr. Trololo” youtube sensation. If you haven’t seen Mr. Trololo (aka the late Eduard Khil,), below is a clip of his epic performance. And if this is your kind of entertainment, then I highly recommend that you sign up for next year’s event!
Brindiamo Mr. Trololo! (smile, strut, wave, wave, point, strut…)
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