EDISON – Local leaders applauded the Indian Business Association (IBA), which organized its largest India Day Parade in its 15-year history.
The parade ran from Edison to the Iselin section of Woodbridge on Aug. 11 and included more than a dozen floats, ethnic bands, dance groups, and representatives from over 100 New Jersey-based organizations. There was also a cultural show which was held at the end of the parade route and featured a number of local artists, according to a press release.
Gov. Phil Murphy, who joined the festivities, acknowledged the Indian American community’s contributions to the state.
“New Jersey is proud to be home to one of America’s largest, most deeply rooted Indian-American communities,” Murphy said in the statement. “The many faces of our Indian American community enrich our state in countless ways. I was honored to march alongside our Indian American brothers and sisters during the India Day Parade and celebrate the strong bond between New Jersey and India.”
With official estimates placing the crowd size at a little under 45,000 attendees, the parade was the largest yet, according to organizers.
“We just got to make sure we keep it strong. The more people we get, it gets bigger year and year and we’re excited to be a part of it,” Edison Council President Alvaro Gomez said. “So anything we can do to help continue that we’re more than happy and invested to do it.”
Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey said he supports the IBA.
“The IBA is great for the Indian community,” he said in the statement. “This parade is fabulous, and just watching the fans … you can see how much it means to them. You can see the passion in the community and thinking of back home. You can just hear it and see it and feel it when you’re walking home.”
Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac joined Lankey in his praise for the parade, and spoke of the similarities between the democracies of the United States and India.
There were many familiar faces, including Congressman Frank Pallone (D-6).
“I always come for the Indian Day Parade because this is a great opportunity to celebrate the Indian American community and see all the clothes, the colors, the drums and all that,” he said in the statement. “But it’s also the IBA that sponsors it and they’ve really done a great job in creating more businesses and jobs in the area so it’s a way to thank them too.”
Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-12) said he has attended the parade every year.
“We’ve got some great people here and they’ve added so much to America, New Jersey, and Middlesex County in particular,” he said in the statement.
Several stakeholders and policymakers, including the governor, discussed the importance of the Indian American community and ties with India to the local economy.
“I look forward to deepening this relationship as I prepare for my economic mission trip to India in September,” Murphy said in the statement. “I am confident that our efforts will foster deeper bonds between our people, and new opportunities for investment and growth in the Garden State.”
Thomas Coughlin, chief executive officer of BCB Indus American Bank, said “the Indian community is the fastest growing community in the Tri State Area and the businesses synchronize very well together.”
Others noted the growth of the Indian American population across New Jersey.
“Like Edison we have a large Indian community and for me, one of the most important things and gratifying things is the fact that we have such a diverse community that is made up of people from a lot of different backgrounds,” East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen said in the statement. “The Indian community is very important to us, they contribute to the growth of the township and we are out here supporting you the way we’ve supported our community. I think it’s the right place to be and I’m thrilled to be here.”
Dhiren Amin, IBA president, said it takes many people to bring the event together, including his team of trustees – Chandrakant Patel, Mahesh Shah and Manher Shah – and the dozens and dozens of volunteers, many sponsors, and the organizations IBA works with.
“It is a diverse group of people with a common purpose,” he said in the statement.
Diversity and inclusion were running themes of the event.
“I’ve been here since the first parade we’ve ever had in Edison,” Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak (D-18) said in the statement. “I support the Independence Day for India, I support that the IBA does this every year and they have a long history of doing a great parade for the people. And that’s what this is all about: it’s about inclusion, it’s about getting everybody together. It’s about understanding other ethnicities and what their cultures are like and it’s so important that we blend together. That’s what makes us so strong.”
His sentiments were echoed by Middlesex County Sheriff Mildred Scott.
“I’m here today to support the Indian community and the IBA for everything they do,” she said in the statement. “I think [parades] affect community in a large way. Sometimes people don’t realize there’s different diversities and something like this does bring it out so show there’s different diversities. And you meet and you greet and you have an opportunity to talk and talk about different cultures.”