NAPERVILLE, IL August 16, 2015: The first ever India Day parade in Naperville, IL to observe the 69th anniversary of India’s independence from the British was an unprecedented success with an estimated participation of over 10,000 spectators, many of whom came from neighboring suburbs and states.
A colorful procession of 64 participants with 15 intricately decorated floats sponsored by various community organizations, businesses and restaurants wended its way along the parade route in Naperville downtown. Several local and international dance groups representing the diverse dance forms and music of India were part of the procession which ended in Central Park, Naperville.
Thousands of enthusiastic Indian Americans and members of Naperville community lined the procession route waving flags of the United States and India. The parade was aired live by TV Asia and NCTV17. The parade marshal was Mayor Emeritus of Naperville George Pradel, resplendent in a Rajasthani Pagdi (headgear). Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico and India’s Consul General Dr. Ausaf Sayeed were the chief guests of the event.
Other dignitaries who participated in the parade were Illinois Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, the States’s first Latino to hold the office, State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, IL Senator Michael Connelly, Rep Grant Wehrli, Rep Stephanie Kifowit, Naperville City Council and several local elected officials and leaders. Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis and Chief of Police Robert Marshall attended. Aurora Alderman Rick Mervine and Alderwoman Lynne Johnson were enthusiastic participants in the parade as well as the celebrations. The elected officials who spoke at the event said they were pleasantly surprised to note the overwhelming response to the parade given the fact that this was the first such event by the Indian American community in Naperville. Sanguinetti said that she hailed the diversity that was being celebrated, adding that there is need for more diverse cultures in leadership so that all the races and colors can be adequately represented.
Krishna Bansal, Chairman of the Naperville Indian Community Outreach (“NICO”) said that the parade celebrated the integration of the Indian American community and was the successful culmination of an idea mooted a couple of years back and actively encouraged by then Mayor George Pradel and the Naperville City Council. He said that the parade this year was only a beginning and would be surpassed in both magnitude and participation in the coming years. He made a strong plea for greater participation of the Indian American community in the political process. Mayor Chirico said that the Indian American community was an integral part of Naperville, enriching it with color, music, food and dance. Other speakers lauded the Indian American community for contributing to the business and cultural heritage of the city.
The parade was followed by a ‘mela’ (fair) and cultural event at Central Park featuring food, jewelry, apparel and music and dance. While Parade was sponsored by the India’s National Carrier Air India, Celebration was sponsored by the consortium of 21 Technology Companies of Naperville with a message that they are instrumental in creating local jobs.
The parade meant many things to many people. For Indians born in the United States, it was an introduction to the diversity of the nation of their ancestors. The very young felt it was “similar to July 4”. For some die-hard residents of the suburbs, it obviated the necessity to travel all the way to Chicago’s Devon Avenue to watch the India Day parade.
The successful culmination of the event was also a tribute to members of the ICO who toiled for days, with many spending sleepless nights to ensure that every minute detail from the space between floats to the vendor booths to scores of volunteers were handled deftly to make the pioneering event in Naperville a memorable one.
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INDIAN COMMUNITY OUTREACH
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