By COLlive reporter
Photos by Yossi Percia
A main artery in the city of Los Angeles was closed on Sunday with thousands of chairs, hundreds of feet of barricades and a grand stage set up in anticipation of the annual Lag BaOmer Parade.
The event on Pico Blvd. was set to the backdrop of a stunning replica of 770, draped with the 12 Pesukim and a stage the Rebbe would stand on during the parade, giving the children a picture of what a parade looked like by the Rebbe at Chabad Headquarters for many years.
Opening remarks were made by Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, Head Shliach of the West Coast. “The unity that stands before us today – thousands of souls united – brings true joy to our Rebbe,” he began. “Such nachas… As I look out to this crowd, as we celebrate 50 years of spreading the mission of the Rebbe on the West Coast.”
Rabbi Cunin then directed the crowd’s attention to the 30-foot Jumbo-Tron screen as he introduced a video of the Rebbe’s Sicha given by a previous Lag B’Omer parade in Crown Heights. Children then recited Tehillim.
Masters of Ceremonies and ringmasters of the parade, as in the past, were Rabbi Mayer Greene, Shliach in Tarzana, CA and Rabbi Chaim Mentz, Shliach to Bel Air, CA, who was in attendance just before his daughter’s wedding, which took place that afternoon.
Rabbi Greene thanked the crowd and introduced the parade chairman, Rabbi Mendel Duchman, to lead the children in the Twelve Pesukim.
One by one, children from various schools across west coast were called up to the stage to recite the Pesukim with enthusiasm.
Rabbi Duchman then thanked all the sponsors and organizing committee members. “This could have never been put together without all of you out there,” he said as he looked out to the crowd of over 6,000 attendees. “Especially the children.”
Following the giving of Tzedakah and the raffling off of several prizes, The MC’s, with much fanfare by announced, “Ladies and gentleman, children of all ages, let’s begin The Great Parade!”
Then all watched in amazement as a squadron of 3 vintage jets delivered a smoke-filled fly over. They didn’t suffice with one fly-over as the crowd were wowed at the air acrobatics as they flew over 2 more times to officially open the Great Parade of Los Angeles.
The parade that followed was grand in every sense of the word. With incredible floats, participation from the LAPD, the CHP and the LAFD, there was literally a sense of joy, excitement and pure amazement. Calypso bands, drumming bands, bag pipes and of course the scores of battalions of soldiers in Tzivos Hashem, all marching by in the merit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
The parade also included a group of Upsherin boys atop a horse-drawn buggy and even a drive through from an old Shtetl buggy.
Participants noted how it was hard to fathom what kind of organization went into an event of this magnitude, but there was not a detail that was overlooked.
The parade led immediately into the grand street fair. Ticket booths, rides, BMX bike shows and top class entertainment from Eli Marcus and Uncle Moishy. All with great detail, strategic planning and happy and excited participants.
The impact and memory of such a parade on the minds of children, while imbuing Jewish pride, is hard to put into words. The ripple effects and fruit of the labor of the organizers will no doubt be reaped.