By Alisa Roberts.
Styled after the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Lag Ba’Omer parade in Crown Heights and in celebration of 50 years of West Coast Chabad, Pico Blvd was closed to accommodate The Great Parade on Lag Ba’Omer. Thousands of people showed up to enjoy the spectacle and participate in the festivities. This was the 15th Lag Ba’Omer Great Parade in Los Angeles. As a reminder of the previous processions, there was a replica of 770, constructed behind the stage as well as a video of the Rebbe speaking at a former event which was projected onto a 30-foot screen.
Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, Chabad’s Head Shliach of the West Coast, was honored for his 50 years of service in California. He opened the festivities by saying, “The unity that stands before us today – thousands of souls united – brings true joy to our Rebbe.” Rabbi Mayer Greene and Rabbi Chaim Mentz served as Masters of Ceremonies and led the program which included Rabbi Ezra Schochet, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad, Rabbi Mendel Duchman, Parade Director, and Naftoli Finkel of Shira Orchestra. The event included the reading of the Twelve Pesukim by children from schools across California, giving of tzedakah, a clown costume contest, and a raffle. Then the floats moved along the streets, amidst a colorful shower of confetti and streamers.
Led by a Los Angeles Police Department motorcade, the march included the Cheder Menchem Marching Band & Flag Procession, a special presentation of “The Keilim of the Bais Hamikdosh” built by the Bochurim of Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad, an Upsherin Train with over twenty children, the Los Angeles Fire Department, the famed Pasadena Scottish Pipes and Drums, Ross Harper’s Island Time Steel Drum Band, The Junior Clowns, and a grand finale by the Los Angeles Clippers Drum Line. The procession also included beautiful floats that had been designed and constructed by kids and community members from several LA area shuls and schools. The floats’ themes revolved around the Rebbe’s Mitzvah Campaigns.
“The kids love it,” said Rabbi Duchman. “They love the marching and all the schools made floats and banners – it’s a way for the kids to show their creativity.”
As the last groups came into the finishing line, an Extreme Trampoline show stunned the crowd with its jaw-dropping grand finale. “It was great to see everyone participating,” said Rabbi Duchman. “It was a beautiful event of Jewish identity.” The event was accurately promoted with the words, “The Great Parade Just Got Better!”
The Great Parade was a project of Chabad of California and Kol Yakov Yehuda -Jr. Cong. of Los Angeles which is under the auspices of Cong. Levi Yitzchok of Hancock Park.