New York, Aug 13 (IANS) India's anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare will be a surprise guest of honour at the largest India Day Parade in America in Manhattan next Sunday as Indian-Americans celebrate India's Independence Day.
Now in its 33rd year, the parade organised annually by the Federation of Indian Associations, will also feature Bollywood film star Vidya Balan as grand marshal and Sarath Kumar and Raddhila as other guests of honour.
But a couple of other parades that have gained prominence over the last few years stole a march over the big one by celebrating the day over the weekend and attracted thousands of watchers.
Colourful floats and entertainment programmes highlighting India's culture and heritage, and, of course, cuisine in Long Island, marked the parades in Long Island, a New York suburb, and two more in New Jersey.
An estimated 15,000 people attended the parade held in Hicksville, the newest 'Little India' located in Nassau County, Sunday with Nassau county executive Ed Mangano, Bollywood actress Aarti Chhabria, and Miss USA 2005 Chelsea Cooley as main guests.
There were 17 floats including those of Air India, grocery stores chain Patel Brothers, and 30 booths including of banks and insurance companies.
"Being a patriotic Indian, I am honoured and proud to be the Grand Marshal at the India Day Parade of Long Island," said Chhabria as she broke into a jig along the parade route.
Even Cooley, dressed in an Indian outfit, showed her newly mastered Bollywood moves during the entertainment program.
The Long Island parade was telecast live by Global Punjabi TV. The South Asian Times was Platinum Sponsor & leading Media Partner.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, it was a celebration of unity, organised by two groups who can't unite.
This year marked round three in the battle between Iselin based Indian Business Association (IBA), and Edison based Oak Tree Indian Business Association Inc. (OTIBA) to run Edison's annual India Day Parade.
Despite the dispute, thousands of Indian Americans straddled the border between Woodbridge and Edison to watch the duelling parades march down Oak Tree Road in Edison within half-an-hour of each other.
Music blared from floats during both parades, as dancers moved to the rhythm and Hare Krishna worshippers chanted.
Bollywood baddie Gulshan Grover and television actress Rashmi Desai led the IBA parade as Grand Marshals while Bollywood actor Shweta Bharadwaj did the honours for OTIBA parade.
In Delhi, a Hazare aide told IANS that Hazare will be in the US for 14 days and is scheduled to visit Washington DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Chicago as well as Columbia and Stanford universities where he will meet Indian as well as foreign students.
"This will be the third visit of Anna Hazare to America. But, this time it would be totally devoted to people of Indians living in America and Americans too," the aide said