Nu York, New York: T-shirts on Parade

Since I was 11 I don't think I have missed more than one (and possibly not one) installment of Manhattan's annual Salute to Israel Parade, which got renamed the Celebrate Israel Parade a few years ago. For me it is a treat, something I look forward to each year. I love the pomp, the loud distorted music, seeing friends and colleagues marching or spectating, clapping and singing along to songs. I feel an obligation to attend, to show more solidarity with Israel and with Jewish institutions, especially so that children feel a sense of belonging. And this year as we have to deal with more and more nasty BDS fools, I feel that attending this Parade, and being part of a cheering squad for all things Jewish, is more than a fun time but a moral imperative.
This year my older daughter and I marched with the youth movement Young Judaea, Yehuda HaTzair. We were pretty far back in the marching pack, not setting foot on the main part of the parade route (the ever celebrated 5th Avenue) until 3PM. It was Jessica's first time ever marching, and my first time since my high school days. I didn't want her to see that I was a bit teary eyed, as she and Rebecca, another girl from our shul, strode north on 5th Avenue with a sign held high.
So, despite aching feet, humid weather, intermittent drizzle, and having to dodge a big pile of horse manure at one juncture, we had a very good time marching, singing, whooping it up. And wearing a very nicely designed T-shirt.
I am probably the most T-shirt-centric person who attends the Parade every year. I admit that I'm a bit obsessed with the crop of Tees that I see each year. And this stems from my experience back in 1979.
In 1979, as a 9th grader, somehow I was tapped to be part of a committee at my synagogue, Brooklyn's East Midwood Jewish Center. I was one of two student representatives on this parade planning committee, along with my friend Cindy. And somehow the group adopted my two T-shirt designs, one for the front and one for the back of each shirt. Hand-drawn, the front showed two cartoon doves holding olive branches in their mouths, and each branch spelled out part of our slogan in Hebrew and English. At school I turned the two sketches into silk screens, and then Cindy and I screened dozens of T-shirts in the basement of my house.
It was a wonderful experience, encompassing my creative capacity as well as my sense of duty and civic participation. And ever since, I have scrutinized all the T-shirts I have seen at the annual Parades.
This year Young Judaea had a very nice medium blue shirt with the lion insignia in black, gray and white. But I also noticed some other very attractive designs-- the Yavneh School in New Jersey had a nice shirt design; the Ramaz School in Manhattan had a shirt playing upon the Imagine Israel theme. Brooklyn's Yeshiva of Flatbush shirts were a pretty heathered purple and the painted design was creative. Another youth group had a light blue shirt and the front had a picture of Theodore Herzl.
There are many fun and spirited aspects of the Celebrate Israel Parade each year, and I am grateful for the opportunity to get all ethnic. And the T-shirts are particularly special to me. They act as documents of the event, with the date and theme (or themes) emblazoned on them. They are an expression of ethnic pride.