Fifth Avenue in Manhattan will turn blue and white June 3 as 29 floats with musical performers, 18 marching bands and 35,000 marchers entertain hundreds of thousands of spectators for the largest yearly gathering of support for Israel in the world, New York City’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade.
This year’s parade will include more than 200 organizations from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and as far away as Israel, along with dozens of motorcycle riders, stilt walkers, dancing rollerbladers and juggling clowns. Musical acts featured at the parade include Grammy-nominated electronic band J. Viewz, Middle Eastern folk group Soulfarm, reggae-influenced Moshe Hecht Band and Jewish rockers Blue Fringe.
Israel’s Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein says he’s delighted that his ministry is involved in the event.
“More than just a parade,” Edelstein said, “this day is a celebration of the special relationship between Israel and America that is rooted in common values and goals. Like America, Israel is a strong, vibrant democracy, a symbol of freedom, tolerance and understanding. My ministry strives to strengthen our relationship with Jewish communities in the United States, and events like these are critical to both nations.”
“We who stand with Israel are strengthened by the sight of hundreds of thousands of people lining Fifth Avenue as schools, community groups, marching bands and floats decked in blue and white go by,” added Michael Miller, executive vice president and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the lead parade organizer. Other sponsors include UJA-Federation of New York, Jewish Communal Fund, Israel Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
“We are proud to be the major supporter of what is the largest annual pro-Israel event outside the Jewish State itself,” says John S. Ruskay, UJA-Federation’s executive vice president and CEO. “Whether marching in the parade or lining Fifth Avenue to show our support, this is one time of the year when we put aside our differences and demonstrate how we come together for Israel when it matters most.”
The parade is part of the larger Celebrate Israel Project, which, according to Miller, celebrates the positive impact the Jewish and democratic state of Israel has on the lives of people around the world. Related events include Celebrate Israel Night with the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 30 and, in conjunction with New York Road Runners and The Jewish Agency for Israel, a Celebrate Israel Run in Central Park the morning of the parade, with some 7,000 New Yorkers running a four-mile course representing a journey from Eilat to Tel Aviv.
For the second year in a row, the parade will be televised live in the New York metropolitan area by WWOR-TV My9 from 12–2 p.m. and streamed online at celebrateisraelny.org for three full hours, from 12–3 p.m., so Israelis and Israel supporters throughout the world can watch. Anchoring the My9 broadcast will be My9 anchor Harry Martin and Israeli TV presenter Becky Griffin. FOX 5 reporter Robert Moses will interview participants along the route.
Harvey Kaylie, Brooklyn-native and founder and president of Mini-Circuits, a worldwide leader in producing and designing communications and electrical engineering equipment, will serve as the parade’s Grand Marshal. Kaylie, who founded this company in his living room 42 years ago and is one of the world’s most-recognized authorities in the wireless components industry, has long been an ardent supporter of Israel and a number of Jewish causes, from Hebrew University in Jerusalem to UJA-Federation of New York.
Additionally, the Empire State Building will celebrate the state of Israel by shining its world-famous tower lights blue and white June 1-3.
This year’s creative theme for marching groups and floats is “Israel Branches Out.” Each group works with parade staff to develop a presentation of colorful banners, costumes and props related to the theme in some way – whether literally, with flowers and trees, or figuratively, such as finding one’s roots.
“Year after year, the parade never ceases to be a thrilling experience, bringing the unflagging spirit of Israel to the streets of New York,” Miller said. “I feel privileged to be a part of the festivities.”