On Sept. 14, Wilkes-Barre hosted its third-annual Multicultural Parade, an event where different cultures in the surrounding area are invited to celebrate diversity and cultural inclusion in one location.
The Public Square was filled with dancing, food and music of different cultures throughout the whole day.
South Main Street was blocked off by multiple Wilkes-Barre police officers at the start of the event. At 11 a.m. all of the different cultural groups lined up in their designated spots. Those on the sides of the streets were greeted with music, dancing, smiles, and waves as each group followed one after another until they reached the public square.
Wilkes University was represented at the parade by their Wilkes African Cultural Club, the IFARHU and MEDUCA Panamanian students, the Hip Hop Dance Club and the Wilkes University cheerleaders. Wilkes University nursing students Jasleen Kaur and Amandeep Kaur also participated in the parade through their performance alongside the Indian Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Misericordia University and King’s College also participated in the parade.
Aside from the university’s representation, churches from around the area like St. Nicholas and different organizations like the Lithuanian Women’s Club of Wyoming Valley paraded to the square in their colorful traditional dressings.
Waiting for the crowd in the square were multiple food trucks, which served typical American foods, on top of different vendors serving cultural favorites from Polish, Indian, Hispanic and Grecian cuisine. Different tables were also set up for local businesses to hand out information regarding their services.
As it grew closer to noon, the crowds moved to the seating area in front of the center stage to watch the multiple performances that were scheduled until 9:30 p.m. The first performance of the day was titled “Letts Eat Flavors of India” which explained the different variations in the greater Indian culture.
Letts Eat owner, Kavita Syedsin, introduced the differences in northern, southern, eastern, and western Indian cultures including their traditional dress and the foods they enjoy.
She then introduced Kaur and Kaur to perform a mash-up of traditional Indian dance and hip-hop. Miss Pennsylvania, Dr. Mahima Singh, also performed to a semi-classical ballad.
After their performance, Jesus Rios and the rest of the IFARHU students began to file in on stage to perform three of Panama’s traditional dances. Rios introduced the group and explained how they got to America and what they hoped to showcase to the audience. The group performed El Tamborito, El Punto and other dances including one in which the students invited several of the audience members on stage to dance with them.
Rios explained why culture is important to him and his classmates.
“It is extremely pleasant to share the roots and customs that exalt those small towns and cities where we come from. It is part of who we are and we carry it in our blood,” he said. “Culture is everything in a society because that is what reminds us of where we come from and who we are. Panama has much to show to the world, we are a small nation in territory, but great human beings in soul, life and heart.”
Rios also commented on how well he thought his group prepared and how honored they all were to share their culture with the community.
Several other performances followed in the day including the Connemara Irish Dancers, David Blight School of Dance and the Aztec dancers from St. Nicholas.
Wilkes’ WACA club performed heir own choreographed dances alongside the Hip Hop club.
Mmachi Dimoriaku, the president of WACA, explained why cultural events are important in the Wilkes-Barre. This year, was the club’s second year participating in the parade
“It means there is enough interest and enough people care about different cultures,” she said. “This whole multicultural parade gives me hope that everyone will care at some point.”
Dimoriaku described the club’s feeling about being able to perform for a second year as “complete hysteria.”
The third annual multicultural parade drew in hundreds of performers and viewers to the center of Wilkes-Barre for a single day event. With the help of the multiple parade staff, the parade appeared to be a successful event according to Morgan Burton, senior neuroscience and psychology major, who was also the student assistant to the co-chair of the Parade Committee, Erica Acosta.
“It is awesome to see all the different cultures that live in the Wilkes-Barre area come together,” said Burton. “This is a great way for the community to come together to learn, support and better understand each other. It is very important especially with the political climate in our country that we can come together more now than ever.”
For more community events sponsored by the city, please visit www.wilkes-barre.city, and follow the links to the events page.