Harlem Light Parade brightens up 125th Street

Harlem Light It Up surely brightened 125th Street on Thursday. (Photo by Dean Moses)

The 26th Annual “Harlem Light It Up,” the city’s only parade of lights, flowed down 125th Street from Morningside Avenue on Thursday night with performances, 10 colorful floats and costumed characters, from the Grinch to Santa Claus (and even Black Panther).

The 125th Street Business Improvement District has organized the parade to make it a tradition each year. This year, it selected three grand marshals to lead the procession — social activist and one of the exonerated “Central Park 5,” Korey Wise, actor and singer Laiona Michelle, and entrepreneur Leah Abraham.

Ten floats, along with eight slingshot cars — each sponsored by a Harlem community organization, local political leader, business or community board — made their way down the street that evening. Throughout the day, children also had photo opportunities with Disney Marvel’s superheroes Spider-Man and Back Panther, and enjoyed face painting and an appearance by the Snow Queen. There were free health and fitness screenings for all. Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer also hosted her annual VIP reception at the event.

“Our goal was to make this event a signature event for New York City — it’s the only illuminated parade in the city,” said Barbara Askins, the president and CEO of the 125th Street BID. “I think we accomplished it this year. Harlem has so much talent and resources and this event is designed to allow those who are here and love Harlem to do what they do best. It’s not just the vision of one – it’s the vision of the community.”

Scroll through to see scenes from the festive parade. (Photos by Dean Moses)