2010 NYC Dance Parade

by Parade Guy on May 20, 2010

Hi everyone!

This year’s Dance Parade was another rousing success in every aspect.  One of my favorite things about the parade this year was bringing of volunteers from other parades in New York to help behind the scenes.  We had cross over volunteers from the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade and the Coney Island Mermaid Parade help out this year.

More on that in a minute.

Try and imagine about 8,000 dancers, coming from over forty different backgrounds all being staged on both sides of two city blocks.  It can be either an amazing party or a zoo, or both.  Who are we kidding, it’s a zoo.  The other aspect of the parade is staging the fifty vehicles that will be in the parade.  Despite our best efforts, drivers show up when they can.  Do you remember the little plastic game where you had to slide numbers or puzzle pieces around until you got them in the right order?  Staging vehicles for Dance Parade is just like that.  You can do your best to guesstimate how much space everyone will need when you are parking them.  The idea is to put them on the street in the order that the Production Manager has placed them in the Parade.  For the most part, the drivers are all very cooperative as long as you don’t try and move them too many times.  Some of the more elaborate designs require a fair amount of decorating and set up time.  Every vehicle must also pass a NYPD Safety Inspection that includes displaying working brake lights, providing Driver’s License and Proof of Insurance.

This year, Renee Cole who I know from the Halloween Parade, worked with me on staging and then Integration.  It is a great benefit to have someone with parade experience to become an addition to your team.  As you are looking to building a team, try to look for others with Parade experience in addition to your particular topic, i.e. St. Patrick’s Day, dance, or costumes for Halloween.  It will make a big difference in the execution of your event for everyone involved.

One of the biggest challenges we faced was the result of the Mayor of New York’s decree that all parades will be 25% shorter in length and limited to five hours.  The time limit was not an issue, but the change in length was something that had to be accounted for.  With this parade, the route ends in Tompkins Square Park, where a multi cultural dance festival is held after the parade.  Since you can’t move the ending point, you have to move the starting point.  For us, moving the starting point up almost ten blocks also meant that the length of the staging blocks were shorter.  That meant that we had to be very efficient with the use of curb space, packing vehicles as close together as practical.  Experienced help goes a long way to being successful.

While the weather was a little chilly, we had a great turn out.  The Parade Executive Committee did a great job recruiting participants and publicizing the event.  As I walked down the route, following the last float, I got to see thousands of people happily dancing along side the barricades as the music blasted.

It’s always a great day for a parade.

See ya’ on the route!

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