EDISON, NJ - The Indian Business Association (IBA) celebrated India’s Independence Day with more than 38,000 in attendance, according to official security estimates.
The parade was joined by 108 organizations, including 23 floats, two marching bands, 27 walking groups, and an assortment of dignitaries, including U.S. Senator Cory Booker. The parade, which ran through Oak Tree Road, began in Edison and ended at India Square in Iselin. The entire parade route spanned 1.4 miles and was decorated with American and Indian flags.
Prior to the parade, the IBA held a press conference that included major elected officials from across the state.
Booker, who spoke from the review stand, praised the IBA, stating, “The IBA has done an amazing job organizing this event. I was here last year as well and each time I come I can really feel the energy on Oak Tree Road. ...New Jersey is lucky to have a growing Indian-American community,” he added.
Other dignitaries included State Senator Sam Thompson, Passaic County Freeholder John Bartlett, Newark Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman. Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac and Edison Mayor Tom Lankey addressed the large crowd at the parade review stand.
“This is one of the best event for this summer. Indian community is an integral part of Edison,” said Lankey. “We are very happy to see the united Edison-Woodbridge India Day Parade.” McCormac and Lankey further discussed how important the IBA was to the future growth of Oak Tree Road and their respective towns.
Bollywood Star Esha Deol was the parade grand marshal. She was joined by Tina Dutta, Nitu Singh, Omi Vaidya, Dr. Jagdish Trivedi and Arvind Rathod. “I never expected such a grand celebration of India in America. I am amazed by the turnout, the passion, and energy,” Deol remarked from the IBA float, “I saw today a united community celebrating their culture and heritage. It makes me so proud to serve as grand marshal.
“Every year the parade grows larger as more groups join us. The IBA is committed to serving our community, and making Oak Tree Road a destination location. For example, I met people from Boston, Virginia, Baltimore, and a couple from Florida, all of whom traveled to NJ to see our parade” said IBA president Dhiren Amin. Local merchants, like Praful Vaid, a parade sponsor, agreed. “This brings attention to Oak Tree Road, the heart of New Jersey’s little India. That’s good for business” he said.
Many spectators praised the easy access to attend the parade. “I have gone to other events in the past, but this is much easier to get to, parking is not a problem, and I don’t have to waste money on tolls” said Viji Venkatesh, a resident of Franklin Township. “The parade route is accessible through train, and is close to major highways, such as the Garden State Parkway.”
Ultimately though, it is the children who are the central focus of the parade. “We want to make sure that the next generation does not forget our culture and traditions” said IBA trustee Mahesh Shah. His colleague and local CPA Manher Shah, added, “We need to remember where we came from so that we a successful in where we are going.” Shivang Amin, who is entering medical school in the fall, joined them. “I will definitely be back next year” he promised.
“Approximately 80 volunteers worked around the clock over the past two weeks to put the final details together” said Chairman Chandrakant Patel. He added, “They deserve so much credit, this is a massive undertaking and we are lucky to have an amazing team.”
For nearly two decades, the Indian Business Association ("IBA") has served the New Jersey Indo-American community. The IBA is proud to continue its history of representing the small businesses on and surrounding Oak Tree Road and serving as a voice for the thousands of Indo-Americans that call New Jersey home.