Saturday was German-American Day in New York City, and the heart of the entire event was the parade down Fifth Ave. Germans, German-Americans and anyone else with a hankering for beer and wiener schnitzel stood along the parade route watching the festivities and waiting for Oktoberfest in Central Park to kick off afterwards.
Moose & Wilbur were there, doing sound for the event. I had my own gig that morning, and after packing up, I headed up to meet them. I told them I’d come by to help pack up, but I also realized the perfect advantage I’d have standing next to the grandstand. I grabbed coffee for us all, and made my way into the restricted area. As the parade approached us, I made my way right next to the announcing platform. I stood next to the barricade, ready to shoot. As I raised my camera, I felt a hand on my shoulder, and some one say “Excuse me.” I turned and there was a parade official standing there, looking a bit puzzled. I really wasn’t looking forward to getting grilled about who I was or why I was inside the VIP area, but I knew the fact I was with the sound company would get me out of trouble. They wouldn’t like I wasn’t taking photos, but I could at least keep my spot. The German man looked at me and shook his head. Finally he spoke.
“Did you not get your press pass?” He asked. “We really screwed this up this year, they all went out Friday and no one got them.” He reached into his pocket and in one swift motion, hung a “2009 German-American Steuben Parade” press pass around my neck. Nearly stammering, I stuttered out, “Thanks, no, I didn’t get it.” I nodded, and then took the big step. The step which separates the boys from the men, the step which separates the cool kids from the dorks.
I stepped off the curb, and into Fifth Ave.
My feet were all ready on the double yellow line when I looked back. The German who had given me the pass had moved on, and I could see Moose at the soundboard. He saw me, and his face lit up. He laughed and grabbed Wilbur, pointing at me. I held up my pass to show him & Moose smiled big, and then waved me on, his way of saying “You’re in the river now kid, you better start swimming.”
So, I swam. Before me, I could see the first marching band and the Grand Marshall approaching. I lifted my camera, look through the lens and caught them dead on. For the rest of the day, group after group, band after band, float after float passed me, or I passed them. I walked all along the street shooting them. They stopped and posed for me, I thanked them, and they continued on. I was able to move around the sun, beating the light that sometime ruins shots, and I found the best places on the street to shoot from. I used position, and placement to my advantage because I was able to go where I wanted… I had a press pass dammit.
I didn’t get back to the truck until after the last float had passed, and I had wandered through the crowd taking some last candids. I threw my camera in the bag and started packing up the gear. Moose and Wilbur joked about how the big press guy took time out of his schedule to help out. As we were rolling down the tailgate Moose asked how the shots came out. I told him I didn’t know.
“I do.” He said. “Incredible as usual.”