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The Nationalities Council of Indiana: A Colorful Parade Highlight

 Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
May 25, 2014
Kanwal Prakash Singh.  

True to its mission “to advocate, celebrate the spirit, heritage, and legacy” that “showcases the city and state’s cultural, educational, and social benefits to the world” the 2014 IPL 500-Festival Parade was another spectacular affair organized by the 500-Festival.  In its 57th year, the Parade, was a warm-up to the 98th “greatest spectacle in racing, the annual 500-Mile Race,” with its theme of “Feel the Rhythm of May” lived up to its being “one of the signature events held in the USA.” 

 The 2014 IPL 500-Festival Parade featured over sixty units that included: 33-starting race car drivers; dozens of celebrities, including Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, Governor Mike Pence, U.S. Figure Skating Champion Gracie Gold; sports, racing, and entertainment personalities; marching bands and colorful theme floats; patriotic and Police Motorcycle unit; the ever-popular giant helium character-balloons that delighted the over 300,000 enthusiastic spectators along the 2.4 mile Parade route through Downtown Indianapolis.  The Festival Parade was televised locally on WISH TV8 and nationally on NBC Sports Network.


Joining the IPL 500-Festival Parade again this year were representatives of different ethnic and cultural groups as a part of the Nationalities Council of Indiana (NCI) Parade Unit adding to the colorful pageantry and international spirit the Parade.  Led by two colorful Chinese Dragons and Lion Dance and the flags of represented nations, the NCI Parade Unit of 200 participants included representatives from China, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Mexico, Norway, Persian (Iran), Philippines, Poland, Romania, Scotland, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Tibet, Turkey, United States; Native Hawaiians, Sikh Americans, and others in their colorful national and native festive regalia.  Ten members (seven men and three ladies) of the central Indiana Sikh American community brought their cultural pride and robust Punjabi-Sikh spirit dressed in brocaded silk kameezes and kurtas (traditional Punjabi outfits), embroidered achkans (long formal celebration outfits), festive chunnies and scarves, and colorful Sikh turbans tied in the traditional and popular styles.


In May Indianapolis takes on a new rhythm with the internationally recognized 500- Festival Mini-Marathon, the 500-Festival Parade, and the greatest spectacle in racing: The 500-Mile Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; the solemn Memorial Day commemorations and remembrances; traditional civic and race-related festivities; graduations, family gatherings, and major art fairs.  The events attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to Indiana from across the USA and around the world.  The 500-Festival Parade is a big favorite with all ages.  The spectators lining the streets along the Parade route in Downtown Indianapolis welcome the passing floats and Parade units with joyous greetings, spontaneous thunderous applause, and digital cameras.  Such demonstrated enthusiasm is contagious and an uplifting affirmation and often invites friendly response as the Parade participants hurry past.

 It was wonderful to see race drivers, favorite television personalities, Olympic gymnasts, motor cycle riders, magnificent horses, wonderful bands, 500-Festival Princesses, giant American flag, music and banners, fabulous ethnic costumes, high-stepping dancers, colorful floats, and massive character-balloons all in one place.  For the multi-generational, multi-cultural crowd, the Parade was an amazing sensual feast for the eyes, ears, heart, and the Hoosier pride and luck: the Indiana sky was blue and the temperature was an unusually cool 75o F for this late in May.


For the nationality and ethnic groups, being part of such a wonderful event as the IPL 500-Festival Parade, one of the premier national parades in the U.S., was a matter of great pride.  This was a fantastic recognition of the growing international community and an exciting way of introducing the nationality groups and ethnic communities in Indiana in such a high-visibility event.  We applaud and thank the 500-Festival for the thoughtful initiative to include this special dimension and multicultural population of our State.  Perhaps by the time of Indiana’s Bicentennial celebrations in 2016, we can imagine a beautiful NCI international float and the nationality groups walking and dancing beside it. 

 For the moment, let us relive the pageantry of the NCI Parade Unit in a few captured images.  The photographic images reveal another delightful facet of the Parade - the ethnic groups getting ready on side streets before joining the big dance and making new friends.  Being a part of the grand 500-Festival Parade was a proud and cherished experience.  It was, as always, very special to welcome Honorable Mayor and Mrs. Greg Ballard as they stopped by to show their support and appreciation to each group for their involvement in such landmark celebrations.

 The NCI leaders deserve our hearty thanks for making our participation possible and for their dedicated efforts in creating another fabulous opportunity to present the many nationalities and ethnic groups that form the rich and growing cultural and spiritual fabric of Indiana.  The participants proudly shared their culture and spirit with the 500-Festival parade spectators and the national audience and felt honored to be a part of the cultural tapestry of America.

 Indianapolis, Indiana USA   <>  <>  May 25, 2014