A July 4th Welcome for Syrian Refugees

Posted by Washington Revels
June 21, 2018

The Fourth of July is a special holiday for Washington Revels. It’s a chance for Revelers from across our community to spread the joy of shared music, dance, and play with our largest single audience: parade spectators! Even more wonderful for us, these onlookers are our Takoma Park neighbors, who turn out each year to cheer on the many great community groups that participate in the historic Takoma Park Independence Day Parade (129 years and counting).

Last year, our merry band had the privilege of sharing our Revelry and our part in this small-town tradition with recently resettled teenage refugees from Syria and their teenage American hosts. The Syrian teens’ trip to DC was organized by RefAmerica, a Montgomery County-based organization that works toward the full inclusion of recently arrived refugees by connecting them with American counterparts through leadership and public-speaking training, cross-cultural exchange, and team-building. In addition to participating in our parade unit, these young people spent part of their time together working to foster cross-cultural understanding by sharing personal stories and experiences.

At the heart of both Revels’ and RefAmerica’s missions is the belief that cultural sharing brings people closer together, and our 2017 partnership was so meaningful to all involved that we couldn’t wait to renew it for this year! We’re looking forward to once again sharing a fun slice of Americana with our new Syrian friends and to letting them know, in our Revels way, that they are welcome to participate fully in the fabric of their new home.

Revels first marched in the Takoma Park Independence Day Parade in 2007 and we’ve been back every year since. Our parade unit is open to everyone: whether you’ve been in all 35 of our Christmas Revels shows or just picked up a brochure yesterday, you can register to participate. We gather before the parade to learn songs, pick out fun props to wave, and organize some flyer-hander-outers who spread the word about our upcoming programs while we march. All ages are welcome, from babies in strollers (hey, rolling along counts, too!) to kids who sing their own special song to teens and adults. Some come with families, some come with friends, some come with their favorite musical instrument: everyone feels included. It’s this flexible, welcoming attitude that makes our parade troop a great way to get a taste of what Reveling is all about!

Want to join us this year? Read more about the parade and learn how to sign up on our event page. Can’t make it this July? You can also see Washington Revels — and march with us — as we close out Summer during the Kensington Labor Day Parade on September 3! (Details coming in July/August.)

For more information on our friends at RefAmerica, check out the Montgomery County Volunteer Center’s website and RefAmerica’s CrowdRise fundraiser, or read their prize-winning essay.

Related Stories:

Washington Revels Partners with RefAmerica to Welcome Syrian Refugees on July 4
Press Release, June 2018

Syrian Refugees Revel in Takoma Park’s Parade
Takoma Voice Article, July 2017

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