Last year, we went to the 50th annual Celebrate Israel parade and it was only later that we found out that the Philippines Independence Day parade had been held at the same time, a few blocks away. We told ourselves that this year we would try to make it to both, which wouldn’t be as hard since they were held on different days this time. We almost did! Unfortunately, when we were getting ready for bed on Saturday night, “Man on Fire” with Denzel Washington started playing on the TV, and before we knew it, we were still up at 3 AM, drinking Stella Artois and eating Salt & Vinegar Kettle chips. So, we didn’t make it out of the house early enough to get downtown and see the parade. Maybe next year? There was a cultural festival after the parade, though, near Madison Square Park, so we checked that out.
The tents for the food stalls, advertisers, recruiters, and organizers were set up on Madison Avenue, next to the park. It was very, very tight. About half of the road was sectioned off by barricades, which I assume was meant for emergency vehicles, though I question the logic there. The restricted walking space was so packed with people that I’m surprised it didn’t cause an emergency of some sort. I was surprised by the number of people attending the fair in general. There were tour buses that looked to have been chartered by groups of Filpinos from nearby towns or cities. The lines were long for everything, including the port-a-potties on the northeast corner. There was a constant flow of people walking between the stalls and the park.
We showed up hungry and the smell of grilling barbecue was everywhere. I was more than a little annoyed, having to fight through that crowd and then stand in a huddle in front of the food vendors, trying to catch someone’s attention to place an order, only to find out there was apparently only one stick of chicken barbecue left at the fair. I guess it’s popular! Anyhow, I bought that, some pancit (a vegetable stir fry type of dry noodle dish) and a few pieces of turon (banana wrapped in a pastry dough and fried in brown sugar, I think). We managed to find a bench in the shade to sit on in the park and once we were full, we were able to relax and take in the sights.
Madison Square Park looks great! There’s some sort of art installation with hanging glass set up throughout the park that reflected the light and people. It isn’t really clear in the pictures I took. I think it was a little overcast at the time. The breeze was cool and it wasn’t too hot or humid. It’s been a really cool start to summer this year. Not that I’m complaining. I’m sure it’ll be too hot soon enough. There were plenty of people. Kids were playing, families were hanging out, the muffled sound of performers at the Filipino cultural fair was booming over loudspeakers on the street behind us. It was great. I kind of wish I had a book with me, so I could lean back and sit there for a few hours. But, then again, the park didn’t have a public bathroom (5 dirty port-a-potties don’t count) or my coffee pot. So, after wandering around for a while and doing some people watching, we headed home to relax.