Not all spectators at Wednesday’s Independence Day parade were from the Bay Area, and some were not even from the United States but they relished the opportunity to see how America celebrates its birthday.
Rebecca Guo, 34, came to the Bay Area for the summer from Congtong, China. She has never been to the States, and she attended the parade with a group of children from her city who are spending the summer learning the English language with the Embassy CES English-language instruction camp.
“We were told that today is a special day for America, and we wanted to see it,” Guo said. “We saw lots of things we’ve never seen before.”
Guo said she and the children she is traveling with have never seen a similar parade with “special cars and good bands.” She explained that in China the country’s “national birthday” is celebrated with a government-sponsored military demonstration in front of Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
About 80 children ages 12 to 18 went to the parade through the Embassy CES program, which is based at Santa Clara University. Children participating in the summer camp also hail from Russia, Italy, Saudi Arabia and South American countries, according to Pierre Gerard, 19, Embassy CES activity leader.
The goal of the Embassy CES program is “cultural immersion,” which includes helping the students improve their English language usage.
“It’s a really incredible opportunity for them. It’s meant to give them a comprehensive idea of the American experience. They’re getting a taste of the entire Silicon Valley” while they’re attending the summer program, Gerard said.
Khalid Alsanei, 13 of Saudi Arabia, said his favorite part of the parade was “the cake,” likely referring to one of many birthday cakes made of craft supplies and affixed to various floats throughout the parade, which is part of the annual Morgan Hill Freedom Fest Independence Day celebration.
He has been in the country about five weeks he said, and he likes “everything” about the United States so far. “The people are kind,” Alsanei said.
Ben Verga, 14 of Hungary, has visited the States before. He enjoyed witnessing the camaraderie and togetherness of the spectators and participants in the parade, which he referred to as a “carnival.”
“Nobody hates each other,” Verga said. “Everyone just sits down and watches the carnival.”
In Russia, the country’s Independence Day festivities are state-run, as they are in China, according to Svetlana Stepochkina, an Embassy CES group leader from Vladivostok, Russia.
One of her students – Georgii Logachenao, 16 – said the parade in Russia is “military style,” with processions of armored cars and soldiers in uniform.
He called Morgan Hill’s parade “very interesting.”
“It’s a great holiday for the American people,” said Logachenao, who is also from Vladivostok. “It’s very patriotic, and it’s nice to see so many people are patriotic.”
The group also visited the post-parade classic car show on the Fourth, and planned to take in the fireworks at Community Park later that evening.