Edison – The inaugural New Jersey Pakistan Day Parade took place on Sunday, August 16, along Oak Tree Road, the epicenter of South Asian culture in America. Official estimates place the attendance at over 7,000. The parade started in Edison and finished in Iselin, ending in a Pakistani cultural festival and musical concert. The event, which was organized by the Pakistan Parade Committee of New Jersey, attracted Pakistani-Americans from across the state as well as from New York City, Long Island, and Philadelphia.
The first parade of its kind in New Jersey, the celebration included 13 floats, bhangra dancers, dhol music, and a 100-person marching band. Muslim Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America troops walked alongside groups representing some of Pakistan's diverse religions, including Pakistani-Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus. In addition to several local Pakistani organizations and businesses, JFK Hospital, Carepoint, and the Overseas Commission of Pakistan all had floats.
The cultural music festival was headlined by five acclaimed Pakistani pop stars who entertained the crowd with musical performances: Fariha Pervez, Raheem Shah, Komal Malik, Waqas Ali, and Haider Afzal. They were joined by local talent including Pakistani-American rappers. Other local Pakistani-American businesses helped put on an ethnic dress show as well as cultural dances.
Also present were elected officials from around the state, led by hometown Mayors Tom Lankey of Edison and John McCormac of Woodbridge. Other notable attendees included State Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Peter Barnes, Senator Sam Thompson, Assemblypersons Nancy Pinkin and Upendra Chivukula, and Middlesex County Freeholders Charlie Tomaro, Ken Armwood, and Charlie Kenney.
"I am especially proud of all the different religious groups that helped make this event a success. Pakistanis are not a monolithic people, and the Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Jews from Pakistan here today exemplify that", said Dr. Mohammad Zubair, chairman of the Pakistan Parade Committee. "We are especially thankful to the support that Mayors Lankey and McCormac and Freeholder Tomaro provided to help make this parade happen. And the advice and guidance from our Indian friends who helped organize their own successful parade last weekend was crucial. We look forward to working with all of them moving forward."
"It is so great to be living in a country where we can freely celebrate our rich and diverse heritage and share it with our neighbors and with New Jerseyans in general", added Sam Khan, president of the parade committee. Tauqeer Haq, the committee's vice president, rejoiced that he is "also involved with the large Pakistan Day parade in NYC, and this inaugural NJ parade was more successful than anyone could have hoped for. New Jersey already has a huge Pakistani-American population and we're one of the fastest-growing demographics in the region, so this event is only going to get bigger and better. I'm already looking forward to next year, so we can enjoy even more great music, great culture, and most importantly, tons of delicious Pakistani food."