Madison Ave. was packed Sunday with people standing on the sidelines clutching an American flag in one hand and an Iranian flag in another. “Iran! Iran! Iran,” they chanted as dancers dressed in traditional Iranian clothing shimmied in the center of the street to the blasting Persian music.
The occasion was not a political rally, but the annual Persian New Year parade, known as Nowruz, which takes place every April. Nowruz means “new day” and typically marks the first day of spring. It is celebrated in Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Tajikistan, and elsewhere in the Balkans, Caucasus, Western Asia and central and southern Asia.
New York’s Nowruz parade starts on Madison Ave. and 38th Street and ends on Madison Ave. and 28th Street. It includes dancing, children holding the Iranian flag and floats decorated with some of Iran’s famous landmarks, including the Si-o-She Pol (the bridge of 33 spans) in Isfahan.
Zohrah Aminian, who moved to New York City from Iran 10 years ago, said she comes to the parade with her children every year to celebrate the arrival of spring.
“We come to show support,” Aminian said gesturing to the Iranians standing around her. “We like to have that connection with our culture and the people.”
But not everyone at the parade was impressed. Farshad Shafiey moved from Tehran less than a year ago. To him, the parade was a disappointment, but he decided to come to see how Iranians in New York City would celebrate Nowruz.
He feels bad to criticize he said because he knows a lot of work went into the parade. His friend, Atieh Sohrabi was also disappointed, but for him it was because the Iranian National Anthem wasn’t played at the parade.
“There could have been better music selections,” Shafiyee said. “There’s certain songs that even when you play it in Iran, your pulse quickens with excitement. But that didn’t happen here.”