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Thousands Expected for Lag B'Omer Parade on Eastern Parkway This Weekend

 Children wait for the Lag B'Omer parade on Eastern Parkway at the 2013 "Great Parade."
Children wait for the Lag B'Omer parade on Eastern Parkway at the 2013 "Great Parade."
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CROWN HEIGHTS — A massive parade for children and a street bonfire will mark the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer this weekend.

The festival will begin Saturday at 9:45 p.m. with a bonfire on Kingston Avenue between Rutland Road and Winthrop Street, according to event organizers. Lighting a bonfire is a tradition on the holiday that celebrates the life of Kabbalah mystic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

But the day is also a celebration of children, said Rabbi Shea Hecht of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education, the organization in charge of Sunday’s parade. The Great Parade is held only when Lag B'Omer falls on a Sunday, according to a tradition started in the 1950s by the Lubavitch leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Hecht said.

“The practical theme of the parade is Jewish pride — Jewish children marching saying, 'Hey, we’re Jewish and we’re proud,'" he said.

Typically, as many as 30,000 people have attended the parade in past years, Hecht said, two thirds of whom are children.

“We encourage little kids, even from the pre-schools, to march,” he added.

The parade program begins at 10 a.m. with readings and musical performances and gets moving at 11. It begins on Eastern Parkway between Brooklyn and Albany avenues, turning south down Albany and turning west on President Street to Kingston Avenue, where a street fair will take place on several streets in the area south of the parkway.

Hecht said "anyone is welcome" to the parade. The NCFJE offers ticketed seats at the pre-parade program, but watching from the parade route is free and open to the public.

“We want everybody to join us," he said. "If you want to bring you own chair, that’s OK."

For those in the crowd who can’t get close enough for a good view, Hecht said there will be large television screens along the route for observers to watch.

Because of street closings for the Lag B’Omer bonfire, parade and street fair, drivers should expect traffic delays on Eastern Parkway, Empire Boulevard, and Nostrand, New York and Troy avenues from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, according to the 71st Precinct.