Hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of New York on Sunday for the annual Israel Day Parade.
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The parade of some 30,000 participants, one of the city's largest, most popular – and possibly most controversial – celebrations, made its way down the city’s most famous street, Fifth Avenue, from late Sunday morning.
Spectators began gathering early Sunday morning, as organizations prepared their floats and schools brought their students by bus to designated start-off points, the Jewish Press reported.
Groups of anti-Israel protesters attempted to enter the area of the march but were prevented by the New York police, which blocked off the area from early morning and maintained tight security.
Also standing near the celebration were other Orthodox men, who heckled gay marchers, hoisting signs that read, "Judaism considers male homosexuality a sin worse than murder."
However, they did not succeed in ruining the celebration. "It's exciting to march with many thousands who stand with us while others incite against us," said Avraham Naguise, an Ethiopian-born Knesset member from the Likud Party.
A live online feed of the parade was available from the Nachum Segal Network and CelebrateIsraelNY.org, the official parade website.
Scheduled to appear at the Israel Day celebrations are Israeli singer Rita, Grammy Award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari, Golem, SoulFarm, The Shul Band, The Ramaz Band, The Israel Dance Institute, The Areyvut Mitzvah Clowns and many others.
A woman waves a rainbow flag during the Celebrate Israel Parade. Photo by Reuters
Marching in the Celebrate Israel Parade. Photo by Reuters.
The NYPD Shomrim Society – the organization of Jewish New York City police officers – will also be marching, along with the city’s Fire Department and many local and state officials. Hundreds of Jewish schools and community organizations will be joining them on foot and on floats as well.
A number of groups opposed to Israeli government policy, including Americans for Peace Now and the New Israel Fund, are also participating in the parade this year, despite significant opposition to their presence.
Israel Day activities are scheduled to take place at various city locations, including Central Park and at Pier 94, until evening.