(Minghui.org) If you mention traditional holidays in the United States, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Veterans Day, Columbus Day and Independence Day might come to mind. Big and small cities hold various celebratory parades during these holidays. To help more people learn about the benefits of practicing Falun Dafa and the ongoing persecution in China, Falun Dafa practitioners participate in these parades with performances by the Tian Guo Marching Band, exercise demonstrations, floats, and Chinese waist drum performances.
Most of these parades were canceled last year as a result of the pandemic. U.S. cities ended lockdowns this year and resumed parades, since the pandemic appears to be gradually being brought under control. The Falun Dafa procession was awarded the Grand Marshall’s prize at the City of Richardson’s 49th Annual Christmas Parade in Texas on December 4, 2021, for its entry’s overall creative, original, unique, beautiful, and expressive design.
This was only one of the many awards given to Falun Dafa practitioners for participating in parades in the U.S. all these years.
At major parades held over the years, spectators have loved the Tian Guo Marching Band, waist drum performances, floats and banners presented by Falun Dafa practitioners. In some events, Falun Dafa was the only Chinese contingent and was a beautiful sight for spectators that promoted the benefits of the spiritual practice.
Practitioners took part in the 42nd Annual Grapevine Parade of Lights held in Grapevine, Texas, on December 2, 2021. Their eye-catching float, banners and music were a beautiful addition to the parade. Many spectators called out things like: “This is amazing!” and “Falun Dafa!” as practitioners passed.
During many of the parades, the organizers told viewers: “Falun Dafa is a cultivation way based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. Every day, practitioners assimilate to the characteristics of the universe through doing the exercises and reading the teachings. The practice has helped hundreds of millions of people find spiritual peace and understand the purpose of life.
Falun Dafa Light Up the Baltimore Christmas Parade
Christmas is a Christian tradition that celebrates the birth of Jesus. It is a traditional holiday for many Western countries where Christian culture is widely accepted. Many cities hold parades around Christmas.
Baltimore, the largest city in Maryland, held a Christmas parade on December 5, 2021. One-hundred and sixty organizations participated in the parade and Falun Dafa was one of them. Tens of thousands of people saw the parade. Spectators who were seeing Falun Dafa practitioners for the first time were impressed. Some said practitioners brought an amazing energy to Baltimore and Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is what the world needs now.
The Mayor of Baltimore City Brandon Scott took a photo with practitioners who joined the parade. He said, “It is wonderful that a Chinese group is in Baltimore’s annual Christmas parade.” He kept saying thank you to the Falun Dafa group for their participation.
Catalina, a spectator from Florida who was seeing practitioners for the first time, said, “Spectacular. The compassion, love, tolerance and respect they show bring people a wonderful future.”
Another spectator Alex Paradise, who was also seeing the practitioners for the first time, said, “I am thrilled that they came here. The values they pass on, Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, this is what the world needs right now.”
Philadelphia: The Only Chinese Group in the Christmas Parade
West Chester, Philadelphia held its traditional Christmas parade on December 1, 2017. The event was rated one of the country’s top 10 best events with an amazing Christmas atmosphere by USA Today. An estimated 45,000 people saw the parade live while millions watched it broadcast on television. It was the 10th year Falun Dafa practitioners were invited to take part in the parade.
Beverley thought the parade was something not to be missed. She invited many friends and family to see the parade. She especially liked the waist drum and the Tian Guo Marching Band performances by Falun Dafa practitioners because “their actions were lovely, the drum beats were in chorus and the smiles on their faces were sincere. I don’t know why but I loved them just like friends.”
Chicago Thanksgiving Parade Emcee: The World Needs Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance
Chicago held its 87th annual Thanksgiving Parade on November 25, 2021. Many media outlets including ABC and WGN9 held live interviews or broadcasted the parade live. Tens of thousands of viewers celebrated by watching this annual tradition.
Since 2003, Falun Gong practitioners have attended nearly every Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago. The emcee spent two minutes introducing the practice at this year’s event. He described the Falun Dafa procession as “spectacular.” He also praised the practitioners’ music. He concluded by saying, “The world needs Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance!”
A spectator said that Falun Dafa’s entry in the parade was exquisite, especially the music played during the parade, because it brought “calm, peace and people feel relaxed.”
St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Falun Dafa’s Tian Guo Marching Band an Exemplary Military Band
St Patrick’s Day commemorates Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland. It became an official Christian holiday in the early 17th century. People celebrate the day with public parades and festivities wearing green attire and shamrocks, an Irish tradition. Practitioners wore corresponding dark green costumes while performing in the parade.
There was a heavy downpour during the St Patrick’s parade in Boston in 2010. Many groups canceled their attendance at the last minute or left early, but Falun Dafa practitioners performed in the parade from beginning to end, undeterred by the bad weather. The organizers were moved and the demeanor shown by practitioners left a deep impression on the organizers and spectators.
The Tian Guo Marching Band, made up of over 160 Falun Dafa practitioners, participated in Boston’s St Patrick’s Day parade on March 19, 2017. Dressed in traditional costumes, the band’s bearing and majestic music became a focus of the day’s parade. Spectators along the route clapped and cheered loudly as the band marched past.
Local residents who saw the parade said, “All the other bands should learn from Falun Dafa’s band, this is how a military band should look.” “Everyone should live by the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, this is how it should be.”
Easter Parade Organizer: I Am Proud of the Falun Dafa Contingent
Easter is another important religious holiday, symbolizing rebirth and hope to Christians and commemorates the resurrection of Jesus on the third day following his crucifixion.
Before the pandemic, many cities in the U.S would hold parades to celebrate Easter every year. San Francisco was one of them.
Event organizer Dennis Beckman thanked practitioners for participating in the parade and said, “The performance by the Tian Guo Marching Band is awesome, they were amazing. I loved their costumes, They are a super large music band.”
Gale Connor, a lawyer, saw Falun Dafa practitioners for the first time. He shouted that the performance by the Tian Guo Marching Band is great, “Wonderful! Who are they?” he asked. When he learned that practitioners started the band to raise awareness about the persecution in China and attended many parades, big and small in various communities, he said, “They have done a great job, keep on going!”
For many years, Falun Dafa practitioners were invited to attend the Easter Parade in San Francisco and were welcomed by organizers as well as spectators. At the 2018 parade, Eleanor Carpenter, President of the Union Street Association and organizer, thanked practitioners for their attendance. She said, “The Falun Dafa contingent is the best among the whole parade, nothing compares to it, we are full of pride for your participation.” When she read the information on Falun Dafa, she said that she often felt stressed managing her own business. She needs to practice Falun Dafa to relieve her stress.
Sarah Tipple, program manager for the parade, said she was delighted to see the Tian Guo Marching Band in this year’s event: “We invited 38 different organizations in this year’s parade. The Tian Guo Marching Band is my favorite. Their music is beautiful, always in synchrony and their costumes are amazing. I always hope they will be the finale of the parade. All of them are outstanding, I sincerely hope they will take part every year.”
Veterans Day Parades
November 11 is Veterans Day, another important holiday in America. Every year on this day, many cities in the U.S. hold activities to celebrate the occasion, commemorating veterans who fought for freedom.
New York City’s Veterans Day Parade was canceled last year because of the pandemic. This year, on November 11, 2021, the traditional parade returned to Fifth Ave in Manhattan. The Falun Dafa contingent was invited to take part once again. People on both sides of the road shouted: “Falun Dafa is good.” Some held their hands in front of their chest in a gesture of respect, while others were actually moved to tears.
Practitioners from the greater New York area attended the Veterans Day Parade in Manhattan on November 11, 2021. The contingent consisted of the Tian Guo Marching Band, the waist drum team, banners and the dragon dance team.
The Veterans Day Parade in New York is the country’s largest Veterans Day Parade. This year, nearly 200 groups took part in the event. It was also the Falun Dafa contingent’s 17th year participating in the parade. When the Tian Guo Marching Band marched onto the red carpet in front of the main stage, the organizers, members of the United War Veterans Council, asked the band to stop and finish performing “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
The dignitaries on the rostrum applauded for a long time. The parade emcee introduced the Falun Dafa contingent by saying, “This is the Falun Dafa group. They are long-term supporters of veterans. Thank you very much Falun Dafa for participating in the 2021 New York Veterans Day Parade!”
Zhou Wenwen, the conductor of the New York Tian Guo Marching Band, said, “These veterans have made great contributions to the country. Our band shares with everyone the grace of Falun Dafa in the form of a military-style band.”
Ms. Donski, a spectator, took a leaflet about Falun Dafa and said, “The Falun Dafa group is very beautiful. I really like it. Thank you for sharing!”
Chinese Moved by Falun Dafa at U.S Independence Day Parade
July 4th is America’s Independence Day. Various parts of the country hold celebratory events on this day every year. This July 4, 2021, was the 245th anniversary of Independence Day.
Wheaton, a city in Illinois, resumed its celebrations after its lockdown restrictions were lifted. Falun Dafa practitioners from the greater Chicago area and surrounding districts participated in Wheaton's Independence Day Parade and received a warm welcome from local residents. Their contingent was awarded the prize for “best performance.”
The parade organizers introduced Falun Dafa as practitioners paraded past the stage. The emcee said, “Today’s exercise demonstration displayed the core principles of the practice ‘Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance.’ I think everyone should live by these principles every day.” Many Chinese were drawn to the celebrations as well, including migrants from China.
Michigan held a parade to celebrate the nation’s 243rd birthday on July 4, 2019. The grand parade attracted many Chinese spectators too. The Michigan Falun Dafa Association was invited once again to attend. Many people greeted and cheered on the practitioners.
Ms. Zhang, who had just come to the U.S two months ago to visit family, saw the Falun Dafa practitioners and said, “I think they are excellent, the float is beautiful too.” Her daughter said, “We know about Falun Dafa. I think it is great to see them in the parade.”
Lucy, who is originally from China, has been in America for more than 20 years. As she and her daughter Jade watched the parade, she said she had seen Falun Dafa on television. “The Falun Dafa float is great,” she said. “I really like it.” Her daughter Jade is a high school student. Jade said, “The Falun Dafa float and the fairy lady on it are beautiful, I like them very much. I also like the words Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance on the banners. I think they are great.”
Beth Patton, a mental health therapist, saw the exercise demonstration on the float. “I especially like their theme of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Fake news is so prevalent now, so truth is important. Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance will benefit individuals, the community, and the whole country.
“We all need to learn Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. I hope to see the Falun Dafa procession in the parade next year,” Beth said.
Columbus Day celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival on the continent in 1492. New York and San Francisco hold celebrations every year. More than 100 groups participate in the parade in New York.
On October 11, 2021, the Columbus Day grand parade returned to Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. This year was the 77th parade and holds the title of the nation’s largest traditional Italian event.
Carol and her husband watched the parade. She praised the values of Falun Dafa and said the Falun Dafa group was spectacular. “I agree with their moral compass, I will definitely sign the petition to end the persecution in China! Whatever one’s heritage, we all really need Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.”
In San Francisco, the annual Columbus Day parade was held on October 10, 2021. This year the name of the parade was changed to the Italy Heritage Parade. Practitioners from Northern California attended with the Tian Guo Marching Band, an exercise team and a float. They were welcomed by the organizers and other parade attendees. The practitioners’ float won the first prize, the Tian Guo Marching Band won the second prize, and was followed by the exercise team. Local residents told practitioners, “We love Falun Dafa.”
A bright ray was captured shining on the float featuring the book Zhuan Falun while people were waiting for the parade to start.
As practitioners passed the main stage, host Tracy Meekman introduced Falun Dafa by saying that it is a meditation system that improves both mind and body. It consists of the exercises and the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. She said the costumes were beautiful and praised the group for informing people about what is going on in China.
A local man said he often saw practitioners participating in other events and he really liked Falun Dafa.
Christmas is just around the corner and there will be various celebrations held in the country. More people will get to see the demeanor of Falun Dafa practitioners, receive good tidings from Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance and appreciate the benefits of Falun Dafa.
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