India Day festivities growing in Naperville

First, there was a parade followed by a small festival two years ago as the Indian community in Naperville planned something of a coming-out party.

Then a larger parade stepped off last year, followed by an expanded festival and a major concert by a performer billed as the Beyoncé of India.

Now, Naperville will celebrate 70 years of India's independence from Britain with a local performer showcase, a still-growing parade, an even larger festival, a fashion show, a concert by one of Bollywood's top rock stars and a blast of fireworks to top it all off.

The third annual India Day festivities in Naperville are set for 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, in Knoch Park, 724 S. West St.

Vandana Jhingan of Schaumburg, Midwest bureau chief at TV Asia, said Naperville's festival is the largest in the Midwest that her network has heard of to celebrate India's independence day.

"The significance is India at 70," Jhingan said.

Events begin with a festival and stage performances by local dance or musical groups from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the park before the parade steps off at 4 p.m. on Webster Street at Naperville Central High School.

The parade route on Webster, Hillside Road and West Street leads right back to the park and festival grounds, where Bollywood singer Mika Singh is set to take the stage at 7 p.m., followed by fireworks.

Singh's concerts typically cost $100 to $300 to attend, said Krishna Bansal, chairman of Naperville Indian Community Outreach, which is planning the festivities for the third year in a row.

But nothing during the city's India Day celebration - even the show by the "King of Bollywood Beats" - comes with an admission charge.

"We're keeping it free," Bansal said. "So people are very excited."

Visitors can buy a taste of India from one of several local restaurants that will be selling snacks and meals, or take home an outfit or jewelry in the Indian style from a number of fashion vendors.

But the sights and sounds of the occasion come without a cost as a way to introduce people from all ethnic backgrounds to the Indian culture, Bansal said.

The parade will be one bright and colorful way to experience the look of the southeastern Asian nation of 1.3 billion people. Out of about 80 units in the parade, roughly 40 will be decorated floats representing the various states and regions within India.

"It's not like a typical parade that you see in any of the other festivals in Naperville; it's completely a different experience," Bansal said. "It is very colorful. It has a different cultural twist."

Local dancers will be at it again during the parade, walking along with many of the floats to showcase their talents and costumes by "doing micro performances out on the route," Bansal said.

The last new addition that makes this year's India Day an even bigger blowout in Naperville is a 10-minute fireworks show scheduled for about 9:15 p.m., after Singh's show concludes.

The blasts of light in the sky are always "a good, symbolic gesture of celebration," Bansal said, making them a fitting way to conclude the event.

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  Naperville will celebrate 70 years of India's independence with a parade, festival, performer showcase, fashion show, concert and fireworks from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Mark Black/ August 2016
  Parade attendees can celebrate their Indian and American sides Sunday during the third annual India Day parade and festival in Naperville. The parade is set to step off at 4 p.m. on Webster Street at Naperville Central High School, then head south on Webster, west on Hillside Road and south on West Street to the festival grounds at Knoch Park. Mark Black/ August 2015

If you go

What: India Day in Naperville

When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13

Where: Festival, concert and fireworks at Knoch Park, 724 S. West St.; parade from Naperville Central High School travels south on Webster Street, west on Hillside Road and south on West Street

Who: Hosted by Naperville Indian Community Outreach featuring a concert by Bollywood rock star Mika Singh at 7 p.m.

Cost: Free

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