HOUGHTON/HANCOCK — Over 65 countries were represented this weekend for the 25th annual Parade of Nations.
Students from both Michigan Tech and Finlandia gathered to take part in the parade, which was led by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Students from China, France, and Saudi Arabia walked through downtown Houghton, receiving cheers from the crowd.
And the students spoke about how that recognition felt.
“It felt great. I was proud of being Saudi. The people were clapping and calling for my country. It’s awesome,” Nasser Al-Shammari said.
“It’s just nice to show people a little bit of our country [Brazil] so that they can know. I know there’s a lot of people here that haven’t travelled abroad at all. So it’s nice to show them a little bit of our culture, too,” Giovana Azzi said.
The event has clearly expanded since its inception and many have taken notice.
“There’s always been so many other nationalities so it’s an eye-opening thing,” Anna Leppanen said.
Parade of Nations has grown substantially in the 25 years its been held.
“The parade was kind of small then (when Parade of Nations started). Even Dee Stadium was not that filled. Even the people that were taking part in the parade–there were less. But over the years, like last year and this year, there are more countries and the food is better,” Baibhav Rajbhandari said.
And the food was amazing–with everything from baked treats to sushi to Mediterranean cuisine.
Robert Wenc, who organized all of the booths, said the event creates a special bond between the students and the community.
“People are proud of who they are,” he said. “This is a way of sharing their ethnic heritage and letting other people enjoy where they came from.”
Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, also spoke during the festivities and he talked about what his grandfather would have thought about an event like this.
“I think he would’ve loved it,” he said. “He always loved this idea of bringing people together and to understand each other. And the only way we can do that is by understanding each other’s culture, living habits and eating with each other.”
So whether it was Japan or Brazil, a taste of every culture was present to show off the wide–ranging diversity in the Copper Country.