Town Manageer Richard Reed carried the Bedford Flag - Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved - Click image to see it at full resolution

Town Manageer Richard Reed carried the Bedford Flag, and Marilou Barsam, president of Bedford Embraces Diversity, waved the Rainbow Flag – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved – Click image to see it at full resolution

Submitted by Bedford Embraces Diversity

Editor’s Note: Because there are so many wonderful images (and a video!) of Sunday’s celebration, watch for Part 2 of The Citizen’s coverage, a photo essay about the festival. Be sure to click each of the parade images to see it at full resolution!

Flags, and more flags! Image (c) JMcCT 2016 all rights reserved - Click image to see it at full resolution

Flags, and more flags! Image (c) JMcCT 2016 all rights reserved – Click image to see it at full resolution

Last Sunday was sunny but kind of chilly for May. And that wind – steady all day long, with occasional gusts that could stop you in your tracks.

Could there be a better day for a parade of flags?

And even more flags! Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved

And even more flags! Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved – Click image to see it at full resolution

The grass-roots group Bedford Embraces Diversity presented its second annual multicultural festival Sunday, beginning with a parade designed to declare the diverse origins of town residents through flags of many nations.

Last year’s parade was in the high school gym; this year organizers brought it outdoors, traversing the town campus from Town Center all along Mudge Way to the high school.

The final flags were as beautiful waving in the wind as the first ones - Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved - Click image to see it at full resolution

The final flags were as beautiful waving in the wind as the first ones – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved – Click image to see it at full resolution

At BHS, the parade transitioned into three-and-a-half hours of performing arts, ethnic foods and crafts, children’s activities, and a steady stream – -sometimes a surge – of visitors, young and old and in between.

The parade was led by aNova Brazil, the Boston-based percussion band from the Grooversity worldwide network. The musicians – ethnically and chronologically diverse – exuded an infectious energy with its rhythms, shouts and interaction with fans along the route and during a performance in the gym.

“The highlight of the day for me was the opening parade,” said Marilou Barsam, president of the organizers.  The drummers, she said, were a natural fit with Bedford Embraces Diversity’s mission.

“They led our parade with a high-energy, Latin-hip-hop style,” she said. “It was hard not to dance while marching at the same time. Particularly rewarding and fun for me was marching up front with Rick Reed, our town manager. He proudly held the historic Bedford Flag while I carried the Rainbow Flag.”

After aNova fired up a crowd in the gym, Rabbi Susan Abramson formally opened the festival on behalf iof Bedford clergy. She offered a thought from the Talmud on the challenge of repairing the world — It is not your duty to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.

Performances in the auditorium ranged from klezmer music and Native American drumming to Chinese dulcimers and second-grade choral selections with multicultural themes. The high school honors chorus backed up the young singers and added two selections. The local masters of ceremonies originally were from Ghana and India.

“The Chinese community came out strong in the parade, the heritage tables, and the performances of the Chinese dulcimer soloist and band were like being transported to another land,” commended Valerie Rushanan, vice president of Bedford Embraces Diversity. “A new group gracefully performed dances of India, looking stunning in their costumes. And local karate and dance studios got involved, showing how what they do is cross-cultural.”

“We have been trying to get people of all types of communities to participate in the festival and in our work in general, to promote the understanding of differences and stand up against hate,” Mrs. Rushanan said. “If you didn’t see your community represented, consider this your invitation!”

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