(Clearwisdom.net) On November 25, 2004, practitioners from the Mid-West U.S. participated in the 71st Chicago Thanksgiving Day Grand Parade. The annual Thanksgiving Day parade is the largest festival parade in Chicago. Hundreds of thousands of people watch it on State Street every year. Over one million audience members watched the live broadcast on TV.
Because of the successful showing from Falun Gong practitioners in the 2003 Thanksgiving Day Parade, the organizing committee invited the practitioners to join again this year and arranged the practitioners' procession as the third one in the parade. After the news was released, two mainstream media TV outlets contacted the practitioners, as they wanted to take footage and conduct interviews before the parade in addition to the live broadcast.
Channel 7 ABC's live broadcast of interview with Falun Gong practitioners
WGN TV conducts live coverage of practitioners' exercise demonstration
After the flag and drum group of 50 practitioners showed up on the morning of November 25 after the snow in Chicago, many Western media waiting for the parade became very interested in the performance of the practitioners. Channel 7 ABC and Good Morning America had live coverage and interviews on site. WGN Channel 9 and FOX TV took footage, as well. The practitioners also gave exercise demonstrations. The reporters complimented the performance warmly.
Practitioners' flag and drum team
The practitioner who was interviewed told the audience that the practitioners came from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri and Ohio, and introduced Falun Gong while the other practitioners conducted exercise demonstrations.
A large sign with the words "Truth, Compassion, Tolerance" led the way for the practitioners' procession. Practitioners in blue costumes waving flags and drum player practitioners with golden yellow costumes followed. Two banners with the words "Falun Dafa" in both Chinese and English on both sides were prominent in the procession. Practitioners waving nine-colored flags with words "Falun Dafa" performed together with the drum players, which was a first for practitioners to do in a parade. The wonderful performance won warm applause from the audience. Many took photos or video footage to capture the moment.
A practitioner participating in the flag and drum procession said, "Our participation in the parade is in itself disproving some of Jiang Zemin's lies about us." Another practitioner said, "Thanksgiving Day is America's traditional holiday. Like China's Spring Festival, it is time for the whole family to get together. Without the persecution of Falun Gong, practitioners in China would also be able to participate in many such meaningful festival celebrations to bring the beauty of Dafa to hundreds of millions people. As you can see, the persecution of Falun Gong is actually affecting all Chinese people. Today we are outside of China and cannot get together with our families in China because of the persecution. However, here in a free country, we have the opportunity to demonstrate the grace of Dafa to more people around the world. I feel very gratified to be able to do this."
As it was Thanksgiving Day, the practitioners wanted to sincerely show their appreciation for Master. After the parade, the practitioners gathered at Thompson Center, where Master Li accepted an excellent service award from Illinois State and where the Mayor of Chicago declared June 25, 1999 to be "Master Li Hongzhi Day." The practitioners said together, "Thank you, Master Li, for your grand compassion!"