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USA 21 July: Chicago Events
The relay begins on the Beach in Downtown Chicago.
Today was a special day for many reasons. We did not have to cover all the miles in Wisconsin, as some of our friends were doing it for us. We then had the time to go to Chicago and get ready for a very big event that was planned for us downtown. Our good friend Pradhan Balter and his staff at the Victory’s Banner Restaurant went all out to prepare meals for us. They also had a wonderful ceremony planned for around noontime today.
Television Morning Show host Larry Potash.
Before the noon event though, a few other pleasant surprises occurred. Early in the morning most of our team went to the local television station, WGN. We were all part of the early morning report with the newscasters. Larry Potash, one of the newscasters, took the unlit Torch in the studio on live T.V. and ran down the hallway with it. Our runners were stationed in different doorways along the hallway and as Larry ran along, our running team slowly came out to join in behind him. We ran out the exit door, then another employee took our huge propane torch and lit our Harmony Torch as our runners, led by Jeromy, ran out to the street. This was certainly the most unique news coverage that we have ever had. Our friends Sukantika and Mary deserve lots of credit for arranging this unique event.
Austrian Consul Robert Zischg ran for three miles with the torch leading up to the ceremony in downtown Chicago.
After a great breakfast at Victory’s Banner restaurant, most of our running team went to Lakeshore Drive along Lake Michigan. They were joined by Robert Zischg, the Consul General of Austria, who ran all three miles with them to the Illinois Building where some of us were setting up for the ceremony. A stage was built along with a backdrop, a banner, balloons, flowers and a very nice sound system. Unfortunately, the rented sound system did not come with power cords. Some of our organizers were frantic in trying to figure out what to do. Eventually the rental company drove some power cords to us and we got the sound system working only moments before the arrival of the runners.
To keep us entertained in the meantime, the Exodus Drum and Bugle Corps, a group of children under the supervision of Edward James and Jerome Altman, belted out some awesome rhythms. The runners came in with the Torch and ascended the stage as about one hundred spectators and passersby cheered them on. Our guest speakers seated in the front rows were excited to come up and share with us their efforts for harmony.
Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor, Gene Lee
The first speaker, Gene Lee, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, kindly welcomed us to their wonderful city on behalf of the Honorable Mayor Daley with a proclamation supporting the ideals of the World Harmony Run.
Many runners from at least 30 countries then came up in a ‘Parade of Nations’ announcing their name and country of origin while carrying their countries’ flag. It was similar to our big send off ceremony that we had in New York by the United Nations Building when we left on April 15. I felt as if here in Chicago, a huge city that seems very similar to New York in its dynamism and cosmopolitan character, was catapulting us off with a grand ceremony to make sure we make it to the goal. Also, the international and multi-ethnic feeling we experienced here in Chicago reminded us of the global impact and involvement of this World Harmony Run, here in the U. S. and elsewhere. For the next half hour or so we met wonderful people who offered very inspiring and encouraging messages and personal sentiments about the harmony we all seek to share.
Among the honorable guest speakers who offered their kind support were: Asra Husain, Jenna Pilat and Prianka Sharma from the office of Senator Barak Obama; Robert Zischg, Consul General of Austria; Nebojsa Acimovic, Vice Consul of Serbia; Machiel van Niekerk, Consul Political of South Africa; Lesly Conde, Consul General from Haiti.
South African Consul Machiel van Niekerk
Other local dignitaries who came to offer their kind words were: Ricky Williams, Director of the Chicago Area Project, Gregory Robinson, Professor of Truman College and James Major Adams, President and founder of the James Major Adams Academy.
This gentleman was a soft spoken, humble and cheerful man of 84 years, yet his achievements in the Chicago neighborhoods, especially with the thousands of children he has helped through decades of dedicated service, are known and respected throughout the whole city and beyond.
Hatian Consul Leslie Conde
Other local citizens who have been active in offering opportunities to the communities in Chicago, especially to the children, were Minister Frankie Freeney of the Noble Neighbors Group and her friends and family, Alyssa Freeney, Candice Ferguson, Jasmine Thomas, Krystal Thomas, and Michelle Thomas, their mom.
We are ever so grateful to them and to all the others, especially the children whose names we were not able to get but whose presence here made an important impact on this event.
The words them selves reflect the hope and the unity of the world for a better and brighter future. They are: “Run, run, run, run, run, run, World Harmony Run. We are the oneness and fullness of tomorrow’s sun.”
These words along with the catchy and simple melody and rhythm have inspired and uplifted thousands upon thousands of people of all ages around the world to share the joys of living in harmony in our own lives and in our own unique ways. Tomorrow’s sun is sure to bring happier times if we all celebrate the oneness and fullness of harmony the way Chicago offered us the opportunity to do so today.
Arpan and Team Harmony in Downtown Chicago
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