US Senator Chuck Schumer, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were among the dignitaries who marched in Sunday’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade in the Big Apple.
They joined tens of thousands of marchers who paraded up Fifth Avenue under blue, sunny skies amid a sea of blue-and-white Israeli flags. The parade, now in its 48th year, is America’s biggest annual show of support for Israel by the numbers. Marchers included Jewish day school contingents, the Chai Riders motorcycle club, non-Jewish marching bands, and a contingent from Israel Guide Dogs for the Blind, among some 200 organizations. Israeli consuls and some government officials also marched.
Also, for the first time, LGBT marchers were invited to openly participate in the festivities.
“Today for the first time in a long time, we really truly felt like part of the Jewish community,” said Mordechai Levovitz, co-executive director of Jewish Queer Youth, which organized 135 marchers.
“It was amazing, it was so much fun. We’re on such a high from it,” said Levovitz. “The crowd was overwhelmingly supportive.”
The theme of this year’s parade was “Israel Branches Out.”
The parade was preceded by a four-mile Celebrate Israel run through Central Park.