(Minghui.org) The annual Chinese New Year parade, the biggest event in the local Chinese community, took place in Flushing on February 13, 2016. More than 60 Chinese, Korean, and other Asian groups participated in the celebration, which was attended by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

As one of the largest groups in the parade, Falun Gong practitioners have attended the event for more than ten years. This year, they brought the Divine Land Marching Band, a “heavenly maidens” themed performance team, a colorful float, and waist drummers. The energetic music and bright colors received rounds of applause from spectators.

The Divine Land Marching Band leads a group of Falun Gong practitioners in the Flushing parade.

Dressed in traditional Tang Dynasty costumes, over 200 members of the Divine Land March Band led the practitioners.

Heavenly maidens carry lanterns with the words “Truthfulness,” “Compassion,” and “Forbearance.”

Falun Gong is also known as Falun Dafa.

Following the band and heavenly maidens was a sapphire phoenix-themed float. Standing atop its wings were several ladies in fairy costumes. Mr. Kim, a practitioner working in apparel design, explained that in traditional Chinese culture, the phoenix is associated with blessings and the divine.

A sapphire phoenix float in the Falun Gong procession

Raising Awareness of Persecution in China

Mr. Kim added that the practitioners' banners and signs draw attention to the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since 1999, millions of practitioners in China have faced arrest, imprisonment, and even torture for refusing to renounce their faith; more than 3,900 have been confirmed to have died as a result of the communist regime's campaign to eradicate the spiritual discipline.

Yi Rong, a contact person of the Global Service Center for Quitting the Chinese Communist Party (“The Tuidang Center”), said that more than 227 million Chinese had renounced their memberships in the Communist Party and its youth organizations since 2004.

“Right now, we have five service centers in Flushing near the library, the post office, shopping centers, and the subway station,” she said, adding that people have become more receptive to practitioners' efforts and are questioning the Chinese regime's hate propaganda against Falun Gong. Many local residents come to the service centers, asking to quit the Party.

A banner by the Global Service Center for Quitting the Chinese Communist Party

One immigrant from China who had lived in New York for more than ten years said she observed a clear contrast between Falun Gong practitioners' peacefulness and the violence promoted by the CCP. “People will see and think. The Party's lies won't last long,” she said.

A team of Falun Gong waist drummers in the parade

Yu Chunguang, a high school English teacher, joined the practitioners' march with two friends, including Chi Yunguang, who flew in from Florida for the event. “Back in China, we were all brainwashed by the CCP's theories since childhood, from our family, textbooks, to the society. It was everywhere, so we could hardly notice it,” commented Yu.

“It wasn't until we came out of China that I realized how the Party's lies can easily fool people. Quitting the CCP will allow us to think independently and know what is right and what is wrong. That is, it will lead us to a bright future,” he said.