On Saturday afternoon, September 1st, 2007, the 18th annual Neighborhood to Neighborhood Street Festival and Parade was held in west Philadelphia. The event was initiated by Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony H. Williams. As in the past few years, Falun Gong practitioners from the greater Philadelphia area were invited to participate in the parade. They performed dances and demonstrated the Falun Gong exercises.
To focus on the culture of local constituents, Senator Williams holds the event in west Philadelphia every year. More people participated in the event this year than in previous years. Several thousand local residents attended.
The district is populated mainly by African Americans, and the ratio of Asian Americans is relatively small. The parade procession consisted of over 70 groups, featuring primarily African culture, including lively dancing and processions. In such a bustling atmosphere, the Falun Gong procession attracted attention for its grace and peace.
This was the fifth time that practitioners have participated in the event. Senator Williams saw practitioners' exercise demonstration at a community event five years ago and was very interested. Since then, Falun Gong practitioners have been invited to participate in the festival every year to increase the cultural diversity of the community.
Besides the exercise demonstration, young female practitioners wearing fairy costumes performed a lotus dance.
After watching the Falun Gong practitioners' performance one woman described it as, "Wonderful and unique." Another spectator commented that the procession was peaceful and had a unique character.
When practitioners passed the podium, the parade host warmly introduced them to the audience, saying, "Falun Gong is a gift from China to the world. Falun Gong has five sets of gentle exercises, and its health benefits are very powerful. Falun Gong is based on 'Truth-Compassion-Tolerance.' It has spread to over 80 countries. Unfortunately Falun Gong is persecuted in China. Falun Gong practitioners' processions have won awards in previous parades in Philadelphia and Harrisburg. Today these Falun Gong practitioners present their exercises and Chinese traditional dances to everyone. They hope that Chinese traditional culture will enrich your life and that everyone will have a happy life!"
As messengers of culture and human rights, Falun Gong practitioners made it possible for local residents to experience the grace of Eastern culture and heed the urgent call for an end to Chinese Communist Party's persecution of Falun Gong.
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