Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Ticker-Tape Parade

A number of these signs were hung outside Trinity Church.
Another shot of the parade for Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969.
The parade for the 1996 World Series-winning Yankees.
New Yorkers welcome back the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969.
The dedication of the Statue of Liberty launched the first parade in 1886.
Giants Eli Manning and Justin Tuck this year, with Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo in the background.
Another Yankees parade up Broadway.
A marker on Broadway for the 1952 U.S. Olympic Team's parade.
A marker on Broadway for Queen Juliana's parade in April 1952.
Recently, in case you hadn't heard, the New York Giants won the Superbowl, and that meant it was time for a ticker-tape parade up lower Broadway, or as the city likes to call it, "The Canyon of Heroes".  Originally using ticker-tape, the long, narrow paper once used by brokerage firms to print out up-to-date stock market quotes, these parades now generally use shredded scrap office paper and confetti distributed by the city.  I even saw a couple rolls of toilet paper being thrown around.  If you ask me, it's not quite the same.  Ticker-tape parades, a tradition often associated with the city, now seem to be almost entirely reserved for winning sports teams, but in the nineteenth and early twentieth century they marked a much broader variety of special occasions.  In fact, the city commemorates each parade in the concrete up Broadway from Bowling Green up to St. Paul's Chapel.

The very first ticker-tape parade was an impromptu event held on October 28, 1886, in honor of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty.  "Every window appeared to be a paper mill spouting out squirming lines of tape.  Such was Wall Street's novel celebration," reported the New York Times the following day.  The second one was held for the centenary of George Washington's inauguration, which also saw the dedication of the Washington Square Arch on Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street.  Not for another ten years was the third parade held, this time for Admiral George Dewey and his destruction of the Spanish fleet at Manilla Bay.  He, as well, was given an arch in his honor on Broadway between Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Street, but it was quickly dismantled due to his rapid decline in popularity.  After  a parade in 1910 for Theodore Roosevelt on his return from his African Safari, and one in 1919 for General Pershing following the end of World War I, parades were basically thrown for any visiting foreign dignitary.  King Albert and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, the future Edward VIII of the U.K. while he was Prince of Wales, Albert Einstein (the only scientist to receive such an honor), former British Prime Minister David Loyd George, Crown Prince Gustav Adolf and Crown Princess Louise of Sweden, and W.T. Cosgrave of the Irish Free State all received parades while visiting.  In the late twenties, Charles Lindbergh, Richard Byrd and Baron von Hunefeld were all given parades to honor their trans-Atlantic flights.
Recently, however, it has become almost exclusively the domain of championship sports teams.  A couple of former co-workers of mine who worked at Fred Alger Management while it was located in the Twin Towers remembered how a parade for the Yankees in October became almost routine in the late nineties.  The city's most recent parade was actually my first.  I've got to admit, it wasn't exactly my cup of tea.  It was too crowded and too out of control.  I could barely walk down the street among all the loud-mouthed drunks.  Maybe I'm getting too old for this kind of stuff, but I've got to admit I wouldn't have liked it ten years ago either.

Now there are many calls to have a ticker-tape parade up lower Broadway for the Iraq War veterans.  It sounds good to me, and with these parades only being given for sports teams nowadays, it would be a return to a more traditional group of honorees.  I've been experimenting with my new video camera, so below is a video I took of some of the festivities.  It's mostly surrounding buildings and the backs of a few heads, and the pastor of trinity church on a ladder, blessing the crowd with incense.  Not the best video in the world, but hey, I'm working on it!