Anna Bauman Detroit Free Press
Published 3:12 PM EDT Jul 4, 2019
Dancers wearing bright saris twirled to the booming beat of the drums, while others marching with the group held two types of flags: red, white and blue for America, and orange for Maharashtra, India.
The Marathi Mandal stole the show at Ann Arbor’s Fourth of July Parade on Thursday. Parade-goers help up cell phones to record the energetic performance, clapped and swayed to the music and watched transfixed as the Indian cultural organization breezed by.
“It’s a very beautiful thing when you see the two cultures merging — the best of both cultures — into one,” said Amit Mandhare, president of Marathi Mandal.
The organization was invited to march in the parade for the first time, Mandhare said. The group is made up of families from Ann Arbor, Troy and other regional areas who aim to teach their American children about their heritage.
“It’s a very diverse place,” Mandhare said about his hometown of Ann Arbor. “We feel proud to be part of the community. This is our home.”
Cultural and advocacy groups marched alongside schools, businesses, political campaigns and more. Marchers held banners and tossed candy at the kids who lined the curbs downtownclambering for a sweet treat as the day started to heat up.
Geoff Larcom found a spot in the shade where he sat on a folding chair with Penny, a smiling, sandy-haired 6-month-old Corgi, perched on his lap.
“The vet said to take her on one new experience a day,” Larcom said. “So today’s perfect…it’s good for her to see all this craziness.”
Larcom said it’s a small enough community that he sees lots of friends marching by.
“It’s just really neat to see various people you know,” Larcom said. “A lot of faces are familiar — you can kind of holler out at them.”
The same was true for Eliza Nuxoll, who sat on the sidewalk with her three children, husband and some friends. Her daughter waved at a classmate and soccer teammate who marched past with her Girl Scout troop.
Nuxoll said she enjoys the variety. Her family loved watching people battle with swords engulfed in flames on the bed of a truck that cruised by in a cloud of smoke. There were the Star Wars characters who posed for pictures. And, of course, the long and winding Chinese dragon that the Ann Arbor family looks forward to seeing every year.
But most of all, Nuxoll said, she enjoys the rare bit of time spent together as a family. For once, there’s no work for her and her husband, no summer camp for the kids.
“It can be hard to carve out time where we can just do that,” Nuxoll said. “And so it’s nice that there’s something kind of institutionalized that forces us to stop for a day.”
As for the kids, ages 9, 8 and 6, there was consensus. Their favorite part of the day?
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