(Minghui.org) Falun Gong practitioners were invited to participate in Independence Day parades across the United States on July 4, 2017. By their presence in the festivities, they introduced Falun Gong to the local communities and raised awareness of the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong in China. Their participation was welcomed by both hosting organizations and spectators.

Parade in Redwood City, California

Falun Gong practitioners in the San Francisco Bay area were invited to participate in the Independence Day parade in Redwood City. The practitioners' procession was composed of the Tian Guo Marching Band, a flag team, a Falun Gong exercise demonstration group, waist drum team, dancers and a decorated float. The large procession was impressive and bigger than in previous years. Spectators were very receptive and happy to see the Falun Gong entry.

Falun Gong procession in the Redwood City Independence Day Parade.The colorful flag team.Practitioners demonstrate the Falun Gong exercises.The waist drummers always bring a lot of energy to a parade.Traditional Tang Dynasty dancers.The decorated dragon float.

When the procession reached the VIP observation stage, the moderator introduced the Falun Gong procession and Falun Gong's principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

Parade organizer Stephanie Hernandez Marquez.

The Redwood City parade is the biggest Independence Day parade in Northern California. Stephanie Hernandez Marquez, one of the organizers, was excited when asked about the Falun Gong procession. “They're fabulous!" she said. "They participate in the Redwood parade every year. We really enjoy their performance.” Ms. Marquez added that she hopes to see Falun Gong in the parade again next year.

Redwood resident Cindy said, “The band's performance is awesome. They are my favorite. I really like their music.”

The Falun Gong booth at the Redwood City Independence Day celebration.Introducing Falun Gong to visitors after the Redwood City parade.

Parade in Oakland County, Michigan

The cities of Clawson and Troy, in the Detroit metropolitan area (Michigan), jointly held an Independence Day Parade on July 4, 2017. The Michigan Falun Dafa Association was invited to participate in the parade for the first time.

The Falun Gong procession was composed of a decorated float with practitioners demonstrating the exercises, a Tang Dynasty drum team and a group of practitioners dressed as celestial maidens. Spectators enjoyed the Falun Gong procession and were happy to take flyers from practitioners handing them out along the parade route.

Debbie Wooley, Chair of the parade committee, said that this was their 85th Independence Day parade. She said, “The theme is different for each year. The theme for this year is 'Clawson – everybody’s hometown.'”

Ms. Wooley has been chair of the parade committee for 16 years. She appreciated the Falun Gong practitioners participation in this year's parade.

The Falun Gong procession included a waist drum team, a decorated float, and practitioners dressed as celestial maidens.

Michigan Senator Debbie Greer Stabenow went up to the practitioners' float and learned about Falun Gong, then had her photo taken with the practitioners. Senator Stabenow was enthusiastic about the float, “It is beautiful. Very very beautiful!” she said.

Senator Debbie Greer Stabenow (third from right, second row) has a group photo taken with Falun Gong practitioners.

Michigan State Senator Marty Knollenbery of the 13th District, Senator Martin Howrylak of the 41st District and his assistant Ray Watts paused beside the Falun Gong float and had their photo taken with the practitioners.

Senator Martin Howrylak said he has known Falun Gong for years. He noted that Independence Day celebrates America's independence, and that all people should have freedom. Whether one is in China, Vietnam, or North Korea, they should not live in a society under violent totalitarian control.

The senator said he knew about the persecution of Falun Gong in China and that it was wrong. He added that he agrees with Falun Gong's principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance.

Michigan State Senator Marty Knollenbery (first from left, front row), Senator Martin Howrylak (fourth from left, front row) and his assistant Ray Watts (second from left, front row) have their photo taken with Falun Gong practitioners.

Parade spectators accept Falun Gong flyers.

Joey Boone of Royal Oak said he enjoyed the parade and that this was his first time to see Falun Gong. He said, “I think that the Falun Gong procession was the most beautiful one in the parade. They bring a different culture, and a beautiful float and costumes.” He added that he was looking forward to learning more about Falun Gong.

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