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News Source: The Courier-Mail (27th November 2007)
by Stefanie Balogh
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BINDI Irwin beamed as she sailed down New York's Broadway in a jungle-themed animal float dedicated to the legacy of her late father Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin for the famed Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The little khaki-clad wildlife warrior enthusiastically waved and bounced around on the Animal Planet float, thrilling a sea of spectators. The noisy crowd filled every vantage point along the Manhattan parade route, some cheering out "Bindi, Bindi. We love you."

Terri Irwin, who joined her nine-year-old daughter on the animal float along with the Crocmen, said it was "Bindi's turn to shine and it was like every little girl's dream come true".

"She said: ‘I cannot believe how many people there are'. She just kept saying that," Terri Irwin said.

"And for her, hearing people cheer for her and her daddy, I know she was really moved. I've never seen her so bouncy and happy and grinning and waving. It was a wonderful moment."

"It's kind of like a dream come true. You know how you can dream that you can fly and suddenly you can fly - that's what Bindi looked like."

Steve Irwin, who died last year from a stingray barb, was hugely popular with the American crowd when he appeared in the annual parade in 2004.

This year's Animal Planet float was dedicated to his legacy of animal conservation and saw Bindi debut in the over-the-top spectacular that kicks off the US Christmas season.

"It really felt like the spirit of Steve was there today, I'd have to say. It was fantastic," Terri said.

It was her second time on the Animal Planet float after appearing in 1999. She said Bindi just marvelled at the size of the 81st parade.

"In Australia we're not exposed to the Macy's Day Parade, so she's kind of thinking (it would be) like the Nambour Show and instead it's just mind blowing," Terri Irwin said.

"So for Bindi the experience was beyond anything she could have comprehended and it was just jaw dropping."

"Seeing people 10 storeys high on either side and a thousand people deep, it was just amazing.

"I think it was inspiring to hear people cheering for Bindi and to hear people cheering for Steve.

"It was just really uplifting. It was a beautiful day."

About 50 million US television viewers watch the annual Macy's parade.

Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin left New York after the parade to fly to London to promote Terri's book Steve and Me: Life with the Crocodile Hunter.

The book is No. 12 on The New York Times best-seller list.

They will be back in Australia in early December to celebrate Robert's fourth birthday with a big party planned at Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast.

New Yorkers Christine and Richard Huntemann and their children, Elizabeth, 7 and Giancarlo, 9, said they were thrilled to see Bindi carrying on her father's legacy.

Ms Huntemann said she saw a "lot of her father" in Bindi.

"She has a lot of his personality in her,' she said.

"She was very energetic up there, jumping up and down. She looks just like her dad. I cried like a baby when that happened (Steve Irwin's death) and seeing her brought it all back.

"She's her dad and she's a beautiful little child. I hope for her all the success that she deserves."

Giancarlo said he saw Bindi "jumping all around the float" and added, "I feel bad for her that her dad died somewhere in the ocean".

Amy Verachariya, 21, who travelled from Seattle for the Macy's parade, said her favourite balloon featured Shrek but she was happy to see Bindi in the parade.

"I think it was great that she was there," she said.

Joe Fullum from New Jersey took his two children, Julia, 7, and Joseph, 9, to the parade.

"It's unfortunate about what happened but it was great she could come and it's good she is helping to protect animals," Mr Fullum said.

It was unseasonably warm in Manhattan for the parade, with balloons filling the skies amid banners, flags and dancers. The line up of 10,000 performers included three new balloons, the Radio City Rockettes, 2000 cheerleaders, four Broadway shows and 11 marching bands.

The Virginia Tech Regimental Band played in honour of the victims April's massacre.

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