Marco Polo Parade Showcases a Mix of Cultures
The blending of cultures on Grand Street in Lower Manhattan was definitely on display Saturday during the eighth annual Marco Polo Festival. The streets were filled with spectators of all ages and ethnicities, street performances and food from Italian and Chinese cultures.
This election season has brought to light the importance of immigrants and their role in the community, and this parade honors their contributions. The Marco Polo Festival works to bridge the gap between Asian and European cultures.
Chinese students from P.S. 105 performed the Tarantella, a traditional Italian dance, essentially showing the blending of two cultures.
Victor Papa, the President of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, explained why the festival is important to the community.
“To commemorate the symbolic coexistence of two immigrant communities and the celebration of that immigrant experience in an effort to preserve to very important communities,” said Papa.
The festival, which was founded in 2008, encapsulates the meeting between Marco Polo, an Italian explorer, and Kublai Khan, the Mongolian ruler and founder of the Yuan Dynasty. Khan accepted Polo with open arms in China after his many travel throughout Asia. This meeting, which took place over 800 years ago, is still relevant today because it shows how different cultures can work together. The parade itself is symbolic because it connects two groups together, much like the Silk Road. The Silk Road represents the path taken by Polo into China.
“This country is built on immigration, built on us coming together and sharing and that that’s the spirit of Marco Polo” said Denis Belliveau of Queens, a world traveler and enthusiast of Polo’s voyage.
An information panel recalling Marco Polo’s legacy at the 8th annual Marco Polo festival based in Little Italy/Chinatown on October 15, 2016.
Participants of the Marco Polo festival hold up a silk banner showing the Silk Road, which Marco Polo traveled on.
Students of P.S. 105k hold up a sign representing their school, surrounded by their families at the beginning of the 8th annual Marco Polo festival.
A puppet depicting Marco Polo on October 15, 2016 during the 8th annual Marco Polo festival.
A young man enjoying the Marco Polo festival amid the artwork on October 15, 2016.
The puppeteer dragon made by a art studio for the 8th annual Marco Polo festival.
A father holds his son above his head to see the dragon dance in Little Italy/Chinatown at the 8th annual Marco Polo.
Students of P.S. 105k dancing the tarantella at the 8th annual Marco Polo festival.
A musical band with Italian roots plays songs like “In the Mood” and “When the Saints Come Marching In” during the annual Marco Polo held on Grand Street between Mulberry and Mott street, in Little Italy/Chinatown.
“In The Footsteps of Marco Polo” is the pop-up stand created by artist Denis Belliveau, who traveled the same places that Polo did, such as Mongolia and Burma.
People who enjoyed watching the festivals entertainers, like the young dancers or the Italian band, during the Marco Polo festival in Manhattan.
People who clapped at the performances at the Marco Polo festival in Little Italy/Chinatown.
One of the many photographers who captured the 8th annual Marco Polo festival on October 15, 2016 in Little Italy/Chinatown.
Victor Papa, the president of the Two Bridges organization, at the Marco Polo festival addressing the crowd.
A woman who grew up in the neighborhood of Little Italy rewarded the Two Bridges organization for its contribution to the community during the Marco Polo festival.