The New York Persian Parade has just completed extravagantly its fourteenth anniversary on Sunday 30 April 2017. Founded by the foresights of four Persian-American families-the Assadi et. al. continuing as strongly as the outset-the Parade’s main objective has remained the same: to bring together the Iranian-Americans as they reaffirm their camaraderie and solidarity with one another especially among the younger generations, while showcasing the myriad noble aspects of their homeland and culture, but above all, their seminal historical and contemporary contributions toward world, humanity, and to the U.S.
The Parade held in mid to late April has now become an annual prime NYC destination by not only thousands of families from within the Tri-States region, but also for spectators and participants from the U.S. east and west coasts, as far as from Canada. The Parade has in fact inspired many other Iranian communities to hold their own parades, street fairs and carnivals, or other annual Persian festivals as Nowruz, Tirgan, Mehrgan, and Yalda at winter solstice.
As to the NY Persian Parade, its greatest strength is to congregate diverse peoples, not only expats from today’s Iran, but also from the historic Persianate hemisphere in central Asia and the Caucasus, irrespective of their faiths or religions, ethnicity, etc. and as they all cherish their common history, culture, life aspirations and rituals. Such commonality is ubiquitously evident in celebration of Nowruz, the Persian New Year epoch at spring vernal equinox by nearly 300 million inhabitants in the greater region of historical Iran, her neighbors and in diaspora.
Moving far beyond its founding sponsors, the NY Persian Parade has now attracted a most impressive and dedicated cadre of individuals and corporate sponsors, members and volunteers, and organizers. What is most striking is the increased number of second and third generation Iranian-Americans from all walks of life, as well as eminent presence by compatriots from the central Asian and the Caucasus regions, in the Parade. The Parade starts with lines of dignitaries, the two national anthems, NYPD Police processions, multiple nostalgically adorned floats and group dancers and performers representing every region of Iran and historical Persian poets & artists, philosophers & physicians, and other luminaries; the Parade then concludes at Madison Square Park where thousands colorfully gowned dance and sing to live music and DJ tunes, while indulging in sumptuous Persian cuisines, drinks, delicacies, and desserts served by dozens of area five-star restaurants. The NY Persian Parade has increasingly received broad media coverage that goes far beyond the immediate community of nearly one million Iranian Americans, and reaches an (inter-)national audience (click on 1, 2, 3, or 4 .)
Moving forward, community events as organized by the NY Persian Parade can only thrive and grow when they are sustainably supported with financial and, or volunteering patronage of large corporate community members. Volunteerism, Altruism and Philanthropy is the backbone of any community cohesiveness and as exemplified by our Iranian-American Community. The merit and need for civic participation becomes even more evident when our community in diaspora is rhetorically caught between a politically charged rock and a hard place per se. Research demonstrates the ones among us who give back to their communities through donations, volunteering time, expertise, and services for as little as a dozen annual hours, a hundred dollars, or becoming active member of a community as the Persian Parade, reflect back on their families with a sense of crisp purpose and appreciation of life. The NY Persian Parade, estimated to cost up to several hundred thousand dollars every year, can only remain self-sustained when supported by every member of the community at a level everyone deems appropriate. Although supporting the NY Persian Parade and its monthly social activities, is reiterated again here, one can also become active in other community activities and festivities, organized by Iranian Zoroastrian “cultural’ Association, Iranian American Society of New York, or Persian Cultural and Humanitarian Association of New Jersey, Encyclopedia Iranica , or Persian Heritage Magazine among others.
Summarizing, let us gently remind ourselves of the Latin phrase, E pluribus unum (out of many, ONE) as engraved on U.S. coinage. Diverse in our thoughts and tactics and yet UNITED in our strategy and operationalization of actions, we only RISE. The above notwithstanding, and if you still are among the few skeptics or cynics, why not then give back to Red Cross or a specific incurable disease research close to your heart, or a human rights organization of your choice? Why not sponsor a little girl gone blind and disfigured due to heinous acid splash? And if you still opt to take the high non-committal ground on the sideline, why not set up your very own charity organization for a unique cause and inspire and orchestrate others to join you?
*See 2017 Persian Parade PHOTOS by Ali Afshar