Babies clad in costume were wheeled down 104th Street in Hamilton Beach on Sunday for the annual Baby Parade, where families came together to build floats from scratch.
The parade, which started at the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department firehouse and snaked through the neighborhood into Hamilton Park, has been a staple in the community for many years, according to Roger Gendron, Hamilton Beach Civic Association president. The parade was hosted in conjunction with a bazaar at the firehouse before the civic was disbanded more than 15 years ago.
Several residents came together to reinstate the civic association in 2000 and also decided to bring back the Baby Parade. There were 18 entries this year, the most since 2012, and they were judged on three categories: Most Humorous, Most Original and Ragamuffin, which is a category the civic created for people who do not have time to make a float but can walk the parade in costume. Children as young as 6 months were carried around on the handmade floats.
“We have three judges and they’re looking for something funny, original. It’s just based on ‘I’ve never seen that before’ or ‘Oh no, that’s the third time somebody did that,'” Gendron said. “Sometimes it’s just the overall wow factor.”
The three judges for the Sept. 6 event were not revealed and Gendron said this is because the community is tight-knit and in years past contestants would try to sweet-talk judges into voting for them. The remedy has been to hand out clipboards to several residents and not specify who is a judge and who is a decoy.
Among this year’s winners were “Sharknado” for best ragamuffin costume, “Hot Dog Airlines” for most humorous and “Laci the Lion Hunter” for most original and best overall award. Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder entered his float, titled “Just When You Thought Planes Couldn’t Fly Any Lower” and won third place for most original. Goldfeder was inspired by the recent trouble south Queens has been experiencing after JFK Airport rerouted some of its planes to complete work on a runway.
Families also enjoyed a barbecue, bouncy castle, a rock-climbing wall provided by the NYPD and more. Gendron said this year’s barbecue was special because Hamilton Beach residents cooked the food.
After Hurricane Sandy, the civic association didn’t know if they could host the parade, but help from the Glendale Kiwanis came just in time. This year, many of the residents have recovered from the hurricane, are back in their homes and were ready to experience a day of family fun.
“To tell you the truth, we didn’t even know if we were going to have the baby parade [in 2013] and same thing happened in 2011. Irene had hit,” Gendron said. “We’ve been through a lot in the past few years. It’s nice to see people down there. It’s nice to see them having a good time and smiling and it gives a chance for neighbors to talk to neighbors.”