By Dan Guarino
This Labor Day, September 4, brought hundreds of Broad Channel residents out to cheer on hundreds more of their neighbors, family and friends as they marched in Broad Channel’s own Mardi Gras parade. The annual homemade celebration of community boasted marchers of all ages, from babes in arms to seniors, and a colorful, costumed contingent of 11 groups of creative floats and walkers joined by the sirens and clanging engines of the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Corp, uniformed “Vollies” and the BC Junior FD’s volunteers. The parade was escorted by officers of the 100th Precinct.
Mardi Gras has always marked a gala end-of-summer salute, dating back over a century to when Roxbury and Breezy Point, which host their own celebrations, and the Channel were seasonal communities. But for Broad Channel, since 1908, it has also capped off a lively season of fundraising activities to benefit alternating Broad Channel non-profit groups. This year’s $53,000 proceeds support the Broad Channel Athletic Club (BCAC). Decorated in royal castle splendor, 2023’s lead-off float carried Mardi Gras’ Prince and Princess, toddlers Cole and Maeve, who raised $17,200 of that.
Leaning towards the humorous and topical were floats like “BC Stomps Lantern Flies” with squirt gun toting kids and parents costumed as the current persistent pest, and “Empty Nesters,” featuring photos of graduating offspring, and moms with signs like “I Keep Having Kids So I Can Keep Building Floats.” On the kid-sized scale was “The Future Staff of Adrienne’s” with an accurate outline of BC’s newest eatery and the children of current staffers and family. Bringing back the roaring years of the Channel’s Prohibition days was “The Anabas Boat Club” with a rollicking, two-story recreation of the club itself!
The wildly imaginative, often musical, home-built cavalcade also included “Nightmare on Cross Bay,” “O’Hare Wacko Raisin,” “Channel Clubbin’,” “Monster Mash,” “Brews Jays,” and “Jimmy Buffet,” a tropical Margaritaville-style float with the late singer in mind.
Curious Rockaway-bound motorists peered out their windows, and even parade watchers, passersby and bicyclists became part of the festivities as Silly String and bubbles flew freely and marchers and spectators stepped out to meet, greet and hug along the way.
The parade itself kicked off around 1 p.m. from West 10th Road, heading down Cross Bay Boulevard. As is customary, once the procession passed by, Broad Channel residents, with chairs, kids and coolers in tow, moved to the other side of Cross Bay to watch the parade again as it turned at West 17th Road and proceeded back up the Boulevard to the BCAC Field. There, a post-parade party followed with awards, music, food and a waterslide and bounce house for the kids.
As festivities wound down, neighbors and friends gathered well into the evening across the tight-knit, small island community for their own individual barbecues, music and house parties.
Once again, Broad Channel raised a colorful cup to another summer gone by.
Photos by Dan Guarino.