Naperville's India Day to be 'scaled-down,' but still a celebration

  • Families can celebrate India's independence day during the sixth annual India Day parade and festival Saturday, Aug. 15 in Naperville. The event will include two hours of virtual programming, a car parade and a fireworks show.

    Families can celebrate India's independence day during the sixth annual India Day parade and festival Saturday, Aug. 15 in Naperville. The event will include two hours of virtual programming, a car parade and a fireworks show. Daily Herald file photo August 2017

  • The annual India Day parade in Naperville will be replaced this year with a car parade through the White Eagle and Tall Grass subdivisions beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15.

    The annual India Day parade in Naperville will be replaced this year with a car parade through the White Eagle and Tall Grass subdivisions beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15. Daily Herald file photo August 2016

  • The annual India Day parade and festival would draw large crowds into the tens of thousands each year in Naperville. But this year, under COVID-19 precautions, the event instead is hosting two hours of virtual programming followed by a car parade and a fireworks show.

    The annual India Day parade and festival would draw large crowds into the tens of thousands each year in Naperville. But this year, under COVID-19 precautions, the event instead is hosting two hours of virtual programming followed by a car parade and a fireworks show. Daily Herald file photo August 2017

 
 
Updated 8/7/2020 11:50 AM

Organizers of the sixth annual India Day festival in Naperville admit they're nostalgic for pre-pandemic days.

They used to host a large parade with dozens of decorated floats, followed by an outdoor cultural fair with dance performances and concerts by famous Bollywood singers, not to mention food vendors, a bazaar, a fashion show and fireworks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The parade and associated festivities would draw tens of thousands of people to Naperville, some of them celebrating their Indian heritage to mark the country's independence day and others enjoying the immersion into the colorful culture.

But during the outbreak of COVID-19, Indian Community Outreach Chairman Krishna Bansal said, it's obvious most of these activities can't take place with social distancing and crowd limitation precautions in place.

So the festival, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 15, is adapting. In online promotions, the outreach group is pitching it as India Day "coming to YOU!"

"Instead of people coming out, we're trying to do some different things where we can still have a celebration," Bansal said. "It will be a scaled-down version, for sure, but we want to do something that's doable in these times."

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The two major elements of India Day 2020 are a car parade and a fireworks show. About 80 cars -- not floats because the parade route is on residential streets -- will be decorated and ready to drive through the White Eagle and Tall Grass subdivisions, starting at 7 p.m. The route begins at 4265 White Eagle Drive.

"People can come out of their homes watch and or find a safe place and watch," Bansal said.

Afterward, attendees can have a throwback to the Fourth of July in Naperville, as fireworks will be launched at 9:15 p.m. from Frontier Sports Complex, 3380 Cedar Glade Drive.

The city moved the Fourth of July fireworks show to the south Naperville park to allow more space for social distancing among spectators in the fields and at their cars and to allow the fireworks to be shot to a higher altitude for a larger viewing radius. Fireworks both for the Fourth of July and for India Day traditionally would be shot from Knoch Park near downtown.

"We're missing what we used to every year," Bansal said.

Before the car parade and fireworks show, the India Day plan includes two hours of online content on Facebook Live. The virtual program from 2 to 4 p.m. is set to include "Bollywood stars, local talent and prominent speakers," Indian Community Outreach says in an online flier promoting the event.

To watch the performances online, visit https://www.facebook.com/IndianCommunityOutreach/ and click on events.

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