Fun fact: I’m half Polish. My mother was not born in the United States and, for part of my youth, I actually spoke and understood a decent amount of that particular language.
(Now I just remember key swear words.)
Traditions from my heritage weren’t that big a deal in my household since it was a family split in background. My father’s side could be traced to colonial America vs. my mother’s immigration from Europe in her youth. Don’t get me wrong, I had my fair share of stuffed cabbage and pierogi growing up – buy family tradition and history weren’t a strong part of my upbringing.
As I got older, I learned that no single ethnic/family tradition will ever define our world. From my viewpoint, ALL traditions define elements of what it means to be “human” in the 21st century. I’m fascinated watching other cultures celebrate their heritage and holidays that never even crossed paths in my suburb upbringing in a Euro/American history household.
Which is why being a part of the 5th Annual Dragon Parade for the Lunar New Year Festival in Orlando, Florida was amazing to me.
Florida Anime Experience was asked to walk in this year’s Central Florida Dragon Parade to represent a part of Asian culture. More specifically: Asian pop culture. We gathered a group of cosplayers together to walk with our banner and pass out decals to the children in the parade route. Afterwards, we had a booth set up where we got to interact with all of the (well over a thousand) attendees throughout the day.
A number of Asian countries were represented: China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and so many more.
The costumes and presentations were outstanding. From the dragon puppeteers to the women in ceremonial garb. The festival was flooded with bright colors and an electrifying energy on all fronts.
One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes:
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
I’m lucky that I get access to travel more than most, but finding social events like this in your proverbial “back yard” are always a great way to expand your exposure and perception of the world.
I was glad I had the chance to do that again during the festival.
ADDED NOTE: I spent a good portion of the date photobombing people.