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Grand Illumination weekend kicks off with a parade, floral arrangements and model trains

Grand Illumination weekend kicks off the holiday season in Williamsburg, packing downtown with visitors from across the region and country — and this year was no different.

Saturday began with the 54th annual Williamsburg Christmas Parade themed Jingle All The Way. Floats decorated in tinsel and colored paper rolled down the street behind marching bands playing holiday classics like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Santa Baby.”

One group marching in the parade was Williamsburg Dojo, which teaches an Indonesian martial arts style called Pencak Silat. Their float replicated the rooflines in Sumatra, Indonesia. Students marching alongside the float wore sarongs and demonstrated their skills.

“Pencak Silat, the style, Indonesians have used to fight off invaders for thousands of years — they used it against the Dutch, they used it against the Japanese in WWII, and we Americans fell in love with the art and are trying to revitalize it,” said Chris Robinson, head instructor.

They were accompanied by representatives from Indonesia’s embassy. Denny Zaelani, second secretary of the embassy, said the officials came to see the dojo and join them in the parade because the group is spreading Indonesian culture and it was an opportunity for them to show the bridges that can be built between the two countries.

“Doing this parade is an opportunity for us to build a better understanding between the people of America and people of Indonesia,” said Zaelani.

“We want to show the American public that Indonesian culture can be enjoyed by everybody here,” said Rahmat Kusuma, first secretary of the embassy.

Read original article and see the photos from the parade on Virginia Gazette