Spectacular Independence Day Celebrations in Los Angeles
By Akhtar Mahmud Faruqui
Pictures by Anwar Khawaja, Annie Athar and YKKB
Los Angeles, CA: “Saturday 8th, 2012 will mark the largest Pakistan Independence Day celebration in the history of the Greater Los Angeles Area.” So claimed an announcement by the UFPID - United for Pakistan Independence Day - an organization that comprises several Southern California-based Pakistani associations and prominent community members who have come together to hold the Pakistan Independence Day in Los Angeles for the past few years.
The heavy turnout of Pakistanis eager to celebrate the Independence Day at the sprawling Exposition Park in downtown Los Angeles proved that the UFPID organizers had worked with zest to live up to their promise. The nine-hour colorful extravaganza was a rare spectacle – men, women and kids dressed in their best demonstrating love and affection for the home country and enjoying every moment of the lively proceedings.
The speeches were stirring, the songs and accompanying dances lilting, and the presentations inspirational and befitting for the occasion. So was the assemblage of distinguished guests: the dignitaries included Mayor Antonio Viaragosa, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congressman Howard Berman, Sheriff Leroy Baca, Chief Michael Downing, FBI (SAC) Steven Gomez, and many more.
According to Congresswoman Judy Chu, the Pakistan Independence Day celebration organized by the UFPID “has grown over the years and now hosts over 18,000 guests, making it one of the largest events of the Pakistani-American community.” She commended the Pakistani Americans for “their tremendous efforts in celebrating and sharing their culture with our community.
“On behalf of the United States House of Representatives and the people of the 32nd Congressional District, I offer my support and best wishes to the Pakistani-American community,” said the Congresswoman.
Sheriff Leroy Baca was equally commendatory. “I applaud the United For Pakistan Independence Day (UFPID) organization for its efforts in serving the needs of the Pakistani-American community of Southern California. They have demonstrated a commendable civic spirit and steadfast devotion to public service and are worthy of admiration and praise.”
Consul General Mrs Riffat Masood, who has taken several laudable initiatives to unite and strengthen the community, observed, “I appreciate the dedication with which UFPID has worked in arranging this festival and parade and raising awareness of Pakistani’s strengths and opportunities as well as giving the dynamic Pakistani American community of the West Coast the recognition it deserves as it strives to build bridges of friendship.”
The UFPID team led by its President Samin Faruqi and comprising Ismail KeeKeebhai (Vice President), Sameer Moosani (Treasurer), Zubair Rawda (Secretary), Adnan Khan (Director), Arif Mansuri (Director), Irfan Murtaza (Director), Jamal Khawaja (Director), Majeed Sheikh (Director), Qazi Asad (Director), Waqar Khan (Director), and Yousuf KeeKeebhai, deserve the best superlatives for their untiring efforts to make the event a memorable one - year after year.
A special feature of the Independence Day celebrations this year was a spectacular ‘Pakistan Day Parade’ with Waqar Ali Khan as Chairman and Arif Mansuri as Co-Chairman at the helm to undertake the Herculean task. Starting from West 42nd Street the Parade triumphantly marched down South Vermont Avenue and ended at West 39th Street. Originally the brainchild of Waqar Ali Khan, the parade was a dream come true for the Pakistani-American community in Southern California.
The Parade showcased Pakistan’s rich culture and heritage and included floats, open-top classic cars, marching bands, student bhangra and folk dance groups, fire department band wagon, LAPD color guards, and LA cricket team. Besides charged Pakistanis waving the national flag, about 500 individuals belonging to local marching bands, Spanish folk dance groups, equestrian units/horse riders, stilt walkers, jugglers and clowns, formed the impressive parade. An LAPD helicopter flew over the Parade to wish everyone Happy Independence Day.
“We are very proud to offer our community such a grand event that will help bridge the gap between Pakistani and other communities, positively present Pakistan and show its human face to our fellow Americans,” said the Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Parade in a message. They extended “a special thank you to the Grand Marshal of the Parade, Dr Sana Khan, and our other sponsors for their support…” The two were “especially grateful to the Consul General of Pakistan, Mrs Riffat Masood, for her support, guidance and help in organizing this first-ever Pakistan Day Parade on the West Coast.”
A musical concert featuring top artists from Pakistan and local bands was the other highlight of the Independence Day celebrations at the Exposition Park. The UFPID succeeded in organizing “an event that is both educational and entertaining, as well as truly representative of our rich heritage and culture and befitting our great nation of Pakistan” that it had promised in a pre-event announcement. Faakhir’s performance as the lead artist of the evening was sterling and thoroughly enjoyed by the massive gathering. Other performers, singers and dancers from Pakistan and USA also enthralled the audience. Bhangra groups from various universities in Southern California too gave a scintillating performance.
The food stalls and mouth-watering dishes had an appeal for everyone in the massive crowd. The other stalls were just as inviting. Vendors selling ladies clothes were virtually mobbed by enthusiastic buyers.
The festivities continued well beyond midnight. Truly, September 8th turned out to be a memorable day for all and sundry who had come to the Exposition Park to celebrate the Pakistan Independence Day.
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