Last Saturday, more than 300 Indian-Americans convened to participate in the Indian Day parade in Jersey City, sponsored by the Hudson County Indian Association in North Bergen.
The parade kicked off at India Square off Newark Avenue and continued up Kennedy Boulevard north to Leonard Gordon Park (also known as Mosquito Park) on Manhattan Avenue and Kennedy Blvd.
When the parade reached Leonard Gordon Park, there was a reception and celebration, honoring the special guests who marched in the parade, like Jersey City Council members Steve Lipski, William Gaugha and Viola Richardson and Deputy Mayor Ador Equipado.
"We had a good turnout from the police and fire departments as well to help us," said Harish Haik of North Bergen, the president of the Hudson County Indian Association. "The street was closed off and we were able to march. We had a band that played Indian music and then played God Bless America and the National Anthem. It was a great day."
15,000 Indians in both towns
Jersey City, with approximately 10,000 residents of Indian descent, and North Bergen, with a population of a little more than 5,000 Indian-Americans, represent the two largest municipalities with Indian population in northern New Jersey.
More than 150 Jersey City residents and another 90 from North Bergen participated in the celebratory parade and post-parade reception, which went on for the rest of the afternoon.
"There were many people at Leonard Gordon Park who welcomed all the people who marched in the parade," Naik said. "It was the 13th time that the parade was held in Hudson County, but this was the best parade ever." Dr. Atul Chokshi was the featured guest of the parade. Dr. Chokshi is the director of the cardiac care laboratory in the Interfaith Medical Center in New York, and also has cardiology practices in Brooklyn and in West New York. Dr. Chokshi is also the managing director of the Krishna Heart Institute back in his native India.
Dr. Mahandrabhai Shah, who is the president of the Indo-American Senior Citizen Association of Hudson County, served as the master of ceremonies. Dr. Shah also presented gifts to the invited guests and dignitaries. Raju Patel, the president of the Jersey City Merchants' Association, was also honored for his dedication towards helping the benefit of Indian immigrants in the area.
After all the presentations and awards, there was a cultural dance presentation by the Mayuri Patel Dance Group. The crowd enjoyed refreshments and music for the remainder of the afternoon.
Naik is one of the youngest of the Indian-American leaders in the county and recently became a father for the first time. His wife Lata gave birth to their son, Dhruv on June 12.
Naik said he was impressed with the turnout from the senior citizen set.
"I was so happy to see the senior citizen group take part and march for the first time," Naik said. "The older people were out there marching as well. I was very happy with the turnout. We would like to thank Mayor Jerramiah Healy of Jersey City and all the people who made this event possible. It really was a great day."