By Prudence Arobani
Nigerians all over the U.S. are gearing up for the 2017 edition of the annual Nigerian Independence Day Parade and Festival, which will hold on Saturday in New York.
The event is being organised by Nigerians living in the U.S. to commemorate the 57th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence.
The annual event, which started in 1991 and has been held annually since then, is the largest gathering of Nigerians outside of the homeland and is in its 26th year.
Mr Yinka Dansalami, Chairman, Organising Committee of the event, said this year’s event would hold for three days, with the Parade holding from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
“The Parade Route begins at Second Avenue and E. 54th Street and ends at E. 44th Street in New York City.
“Known as the largest celebration of Nigeria not happening in the homeland, the 26th annual Nigerian Independence Day Parade celebrates the very best of Nigeria’s food, culture, music and people.
“The route will end at Nigeria House and will be followed by the Independence Day Festival at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations Headquarters,2 he said.
He said the event attracts an average of 75,000 people annually, adding, however, that this year’s is expected to attract more than 100,000 people.
According to him, there will be Nigerian Culture Night on Friday from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. and the New York African Restaurant Week Mega-Food Festival and Day Party from 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Dansalami said “the three-day event will showcase Nigeria’s unique culture and promote the positive image of Nigeria to the rest of the world.
“Since its founding in 1991, the Nigerian Independence Day celebration has become the largest observance of Nigeria’s independence outside of Nigeria.
“Now in its 26th year, the NYC Nigerian Independence Day Parade and Festival is organised and presented by the Nigerian Independence Day Committee.
“The Committee is a coalition of Nigerian cultural, religious, professional, business, and civic groups committed to preserving, presenting and celebrating Nigeria’s rich history and culture”.
Dansalami also said the Nigerian Cultural Night is an annual cultural celebration of music, food, and fun where attendees of all ages are asked to wear their favorite cultural attires.
“They are prepared to dance, sing and celebrate the night away. Nigerian DJs will be on-hand spinning the most popular Nigerian and afrobeat hits.
“In partnership with New York African Restaurant Week, Nigerian Independence Day celebration participants will join more than 25 restaurants and food vendors representing cuisines from various parts of Africa.
“There will also be more than 30 participating exhibitors and vendors across fashion, arts, culture, and community organizations,” he said.