Five hundred people from throughout NJ and neighboring states attended the 4th annual NEW JERSEY DISABILITY PRIDE PARADE & CELEBRATION on Friday, October 3rd, in Trenton, NJ. The event was once again organized by the Alliance Center for Independence (ACI).
NJDPP featured a variety of entertainers, all of whom have disabilities. These included R&B singer Naquela Wright, singer and Hollywood actress Rachel Handler, vocalist Kaleigh Brendle, comedian Damon Rozier, Joy's Exceptional Dancers, a dance troupe made up of children with autism, Shimmying Lotus an integrated modern belly dance troupe, hip-hop dancer Christina "C-Bunny" Sarni and the Arc Mercer's music and drama programs.
Patrice Jetter, the grand marshal, kicked off the event by leading the parade, which began at the steps of the NJ State House. As part of the parade, the Mercer County Special Services School District's drum line performed while they marched alongside other participants. Ryan Henry, a member of the drum line, sang the national anthem to open the celebration portion of the day.
As a tribute to veterans with disabilities, the Army National Guard, based out of Lawrenceville, displayed flags which represented all the branches of the US Armed Forces.
Joseph Amoroso, director of the NJ Division on Disability Services, and Alice Hunnicutt, director of the NJ Division of Rehabilitation Services, were both honored for their support of the NJDPP and ACI.
22 exhibitors representing various state, for profit and not for profit organizations, gave out literature and resources for the event participants. The NJ Division of Disability Services raffled off emergency "go kits" at their emergency preparedness pavilion.
The purpose of the New Jersey Disability Pride Parade is to bring people, organizations and businesses together to celebrate pride with the disability community and to promote the belief that disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity while generating national awareness for the disability community.
NJDPP relies solely on sponsorship, donations and in-kind services. This year's sponsors include Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory in Jersey City, the NJ Division on Disability Services, Fun Truck'n Mobility, BCB Community Bank of Woodbridge, LifeLong Retirement Corp, Community Access Unlimited, the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities and Easter Seals.
ACI is proud to have organized and hosted NJDPP for the past 4 years. We would like to thank the all of the volunteers, sponsors, donors, performers, participants and the disability community for making this event a continuing success and showing the world what disability pride really is!
See you next year!