On the Scene: Thanksgiving in New York

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Your columnist along with 250 members of the Homestead High School Marching Band of Cupertino, California accompanied by over 100 parent chaperones and “shadows” descended on New York City for the most exciting week of our lives.  The Mustangs band, which has consistently won top honors in local competitions throughout the state, spent the week before their debut at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, seeing the sights of NYC.

Homestead High School Marching Band of Cupertino perform in the Thanksgiving Day Macy’s Parade.

Exciting times were having a Macy’s photographer take their picture in the middle of Times Square, visiting Ellis Island, seeing a Broadway show, viewing the memorial fountains at Ground Zero, visiting the Metropolitan Museum of History, watching fellow students of their Wind Ensemble playing at Carnegie Hall, and ending the dream trip with a cruise around Manhattan Island for their Thanksgiving dinner and seeing the Statue of Liberty and the New York brightly lit skyline.    The highlight, of course, was having the experience of marching in the famous 87th annual Macy’s Parade before throngs lining the sidewalk of their three mile walk and performing their intricate routine on the famous Macy’s Red Star walkway before thousands of television viewers. 

Homestead Band performing on Macy's Star

Obviously 250 members synchronizing marching and playing simultaneously takes hours of diligent practice, and I congratulate them all for a job well done.  Seen marching with high energy and dignity were some of the following: Drum majors Jon Jon Wong, Jesse Qin, Diveesh Singh. Fluent on flutes were Karena Vongampai, Hyesung La, Sara Hu, Katrina Wong and granddaughter Melissa Matsuura. Smooth on Sax were Josh Gu and Garrett Wong.

Other outstanding band musicians were Allison Lo, Lyn Ishizaki-Brown, Megan Fong, Jamie Mar, Kathy Yi, Braden Wong and Eri Arai.

Homestead High School band at the Statue of Liberty.

Thanks to assistance and advice given to me by Chris Heywood , Vice President, Communications, for the NYC & Company, we had many memorable moments in New York. NYC & Company is the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for the City of New York, dedicated to maximizing travel and tourism opportunities throughout the five boroughs, and spreading the positive image of New York City worldwide.  A visit to its 810 Seventh Ave store gives you information on subway transportation, plus much materials available telling you where to go, how best to get there, and what to see. Their City Pass is a bargain folder of 7 sites to visit, including tickets for the Empire State and Top of the Rock viewing, Metropolitan Museum of History, Museum of Modern Art, and a cruise tour around the island at a better price than if one paid at each site separately.

Proud Wong parents DeeDee and Mike Wong congratulate band member sons Braden and Garrett following their parade performance.

A leading mantra for a successful location to lay your suitcases down is – Location, Location, Location!   I must rave about the Marriott Marquis, not only for its convenient location in the center of Times Square when one wants to be in the center of the action to people watch on the Red Steps and go to any of the Broadway theatres only blocks away, but for its services throughout our stay.  As loyal elite members, our family enjoyed a large variety of breakfast foods on the 30th floor overlooking a view of the city, as well as late afternoon appetizer/tea offerings for the sightseeing weary.  An efficient elevator  of the 8 elevators you should go to to take you to your floor. All of the service people, from the Registration clerks to the concierges on both the street level and the 8th floor lobbies, to the doormen cheerfully hailing cabs for everyone, were the friendliest and most helpful of any hotel personnel I have encountered in my years of travel.  Kudos to the Marriott Marquis in NYC – you are the best!  Other NYC not to miss experiences are seeing the Rockette’s kick up their famous legs in explicit coordination at Radio City’s Xmas show, people watching while sitting on the red steps bleachers at Times Square, and losing oneself viewing artifacts of history at the Metropolitan Museum of History.

Broadway was at its best with so many great offerings, hard to choose.  Ch’ing-lish by David Henry Hwang, a spoof of sorts about conducting business in China, had great performances by Gary Wilmes as the hapless American businessman, with especially memorable acting by Jennifer Lim, Angela Lin, Christine Lin, Larry Zhang and Johnny Wu. Ryan Hallett of Jeffrey Richards Associates had raved about the show and he was right, the audience seemed to enjoy the awkward sign translations, and understand the different nuances in working with two separate cultures. The set changes were superior and very effective.   Memphis, the musical, was so lively, one wanted to rise from the seat and dance along with the wonderful cast of dancers.  Old friend Randy Adams, founded Junkyard Dog Productions which brought this wonderful show from his premiere in Palo Alto to become the Tony award winner to Broadway. He led us up to the stage after the show to let us enjoy the beautiful historic Shubert Theatre as seen from the performers viewpoint. The story’s twist is of a white disc jockey wanting to bring black music to white America, and the rise of that era’s growth into appreciation of  the mixing of music cultures.

Randy Adams, Junkyard Dog Founder Producer of Broadway hit “Memphis” welcomes Justin and Todd Matsuura, Gerrye Wong to Suhbert Theatre performance.


If you want to experience the most energetic trigger moving hips, go see FELA! at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, which is the true story of the legendry Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti, whose soulful Afrobeat rhythms ignited a generation in the 60-70s and brought the SF audience its feet to wiggle dem hips as Fela’s actor ordered you to do. Although at times the angry yelling voice of Fela could be overwhelming and abrasive to the ear, the story of how he defied the corrupt and oppressive military forces in Nigeria is a moving one and if the audience enthusiasm for the dancers is any indication, the show is something different and enjoyable to witness. Hurry – it only runs to December 11,.

Cynthia Yee’s nighttime Chinatown Ghost Tours continue to thrill visitors coming to San Francisco in search of a new and different experience.  Her day and night tour offerings have become very popular destinations for tourists, and its nice for them to learn the history of America’s first large continuing Chinatown.  Good work, Cynthia.

San Francisco Symphony has a wonderful line-up of Christmas programs for adults and families. Concert by Duke Ellington Orchestra performs on December 11 and the popular Peabo Bryson and Lea Salonga will be singing their hearts out at the Colors of Christmas concert the second week of December at Louise Davies Hall.

A fundraiser for Mt. View Council member Margaret Abe-Koga for her Santa Clara County Supervisor candidacy will be held on December 9 at the Miraido Villge in Japantown San Jose.  Hosted by Yosh Uchida, Roy Hirabayashi, Dr. Jerry Hiura, Joyce Iwasaki, Arcadi Kolchak, Steve Nakano, Tamon Norimoto, Randy Okamura and Tori Ueda, the public is invited to give support to this popular young lady.  ( 916) 601 7949 or sylviaTanglic@gmail.com fortickets.


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