New York City Loves a Parade and Me Too

NYC ticker tape parade honoring John Glenn on March 1, 1962. Credit: Associated Press.

Three visits in a row to New York City and I found myself smack dab in the middle of a parade.  Two of the parades included an appearance by Victor Cruz, lucky me.  None of my trips to The Big Apple were planned around the parades, it just so happened they found me walking to business meetings and roaming around the City that Never Sleeps during a family get-away.

Beyond Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the well known St. Patrick’s Parade, it is obvious to me that New York City loves a lot of parading! And why not? Costumes, sparkle, horns blaring, screaming, loud music, kids everywhere, dancing and marching bands consuming the streets.  It makes you walk a little faster and your heart beat a little stronger. It makes you smile.

Parades bring thousands, or millions if you are in New York City, outdoors to cheer on traditions, heroes, schools, sports teams, celebrities and even politicians.  Parades make you feel good.

I had no affiliation with any of the parades that took place during my recent visits to New York City.  One was for veterans, another for the NFL Super Bowl XLII champs and the latest was the NYC National Puerto Rican Day Parade.  Regardless the event, I was welcome.  Walking along the route, applauding and waving back to those that marched along, it was me and the parade.  It was revelry, cheering the winners and heroes while kids waved their flags with pride. You can’t help but smile.

Parades are uniting.  Parades are parties where everyone is invited.  You are among celebrants of every demographic.  We need more parades. It is one of the few times that blocking off streets and creating congestion seems like a great idea for the community and city dwellers.

Imagine if we had more parades.  More reasons to gather in the streets and celebrate.  Gathering for more than our heritages, causes and associations.  What if we simply gathered in our streets not in protest but to feel good, cheer each other on and unite as one.  I am sure we could find many reasons to have a parade.

Daniel Webster in Central Park

It seemed only appropriate as my family walked through New York Central Park and the parade noise filtered in through the trees, we happened along a statue of Daniel Webster.  The inscription said, “Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable.”   Yes, liberty to walk free with each other, united together. No discrimination.  Only love and respect.

We need to gather more in celebration and in appreciation.  We need more reasons for kids to cheer, laugh, scream and wave.  New York City loves parades and so should we all.  We need more parades!  I can only hope my next visit to New York City includes another parade.

I love a parade,the tramping of feet,
I love every beat I hear of a drum.
I love a parade, when I hear a band
I just want to stand and cheer as they come.
That rat-a tat-tat, the blare of a horn.
That rat-a tat-tat, a bright uniform;
The sight of a drill will give me a thrill,
I thrill at the skill of everything military.
I love a parade, a handful of vets,
A line of cadets or any brigade,
For I love a parade.  — Arden

Life Lessons Learned at the Zoo

Life at the Zoo

A rare reprieve of relentless Arizona summer temperatures provided a great day to visit The Phoenix Zoo.  Walking through all the exhibits inspired me to think about life lessons you can learn at the zoo.

First, I learned my brilliant idea of mixing with animals is not unique. Every year 175 million people visit 224 accredited zoos and aquariums in the United States, according to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

Second, getting close to elephants, sharks and wolves has an important financial impact.  The AZA reported in 2011 that zoos and aquariums contributed $16 billion to the US economy and employed more than 142,000 people.

Further observations and life lessons from my day at the zoo:

  • Diversity Exists at the Zoo – Hundreds of species existing together – lions and tigers, oh my!  From reptiles to some of the largest mammals that roam our planet, the zoo is truly diverse.  We are able to see a harmonious place where differences are appreciated and celebrated.  We seek out and marvel at all the distinct unlikeness between varieties of snakes, birds, monkeys and bears.  It is also worth noting that there is great diversity in the people that visit the zoo, all together and at the same time. Travelers from all over the world, all cultures and ethnicity enjoy visiting the zoo — a true melting pot.
  • Community Matters at the Zoo – Most zoos survive with a community of volunteers and public and private donations.  Zoos need communities to promote and participate in supporting the upkeep and daily maintenance.  It is expensive to entertain and educate us.  Zoos need all of us as much as we need them.  Make it a priority to visit your local zoo at least one time a year, better yet become a zoo member!
  • Visiting the Zoo is Healthy – It is outdoors and requires you to get moving!  Most zoos require you to walk great distances to see all the exhibits. Zoos definitely beat out a walk inside the mall and will probably save you money.  As fact, in 2009 a Animal Science Journal study reported zoo visitors had a drop in blood pressure when they left the zoo and felt they had an improved quality of life.
  • The Zoo is Ageless – As marketers and business leaders continually look for ways to segment their target audience, the zoo appeals to all ages!  From babies to seniors, the zoo brings smiles to the young and young at heart.  Families, teens, dating couples, grand parents and small children wander the paths together.  Screaming and crying is expected and crowds draw more people to get a glimpse.  There are no limits at the zoo.
  • Curiosity can Conquer Fear – Imagine starring a tiger in the eye or feeding a sting ray.  Only at the zoo can we conquer our fears so easily.  We can watch the spiders and snakes up close and glare at the wolves as they roam a few feet in front of us.  The zoo allows us to use our curiosity as a way to overcome the fear of the unknown.  Children (and adults) can ride a camel and shake hands with a tree monkey.  Interaction creates an opportunity to learn.  The more we know, the less we fear.

Zebras at the Zoo

As you think about a way to support your local community, go for a long walk and tap into your adventurous side to explore the unknown, I suggest there is no better place to do it all than the zoo!

“We all have a fear of the unknown what one does with that fear will make all the difference in the world.” – Lillian Russell