At Jacksonville Beach Parade, over 70 Alachua youth came together, dressed in all the brightest festive colors. Taking to the streets, everyone danced and chanted while interacting with the crowd and bringing smiles to thousands of faces. They distributed over 4,000 lollipops to excited children along the way. The Ratha Yatra cart trailed behind, spreading the Holy Name of ‘Hare Krishna’ to an estimated 30,000 attendees.
The two mile stretch in the city of Jacksonville is only one of many sites visited by the youth and Hare Krishna community members yearly. One of the largest festivals, the St. Augustine Rathayatra, is a spectacle of over 300 participants bringing enlivening music, dancing, and spirit to the city square. These Ratha Yatra festivals, hosted by the Festival of Chariots team and the devotees of Lord Jagannath, are a jewel of the Alachua community. They continue to exemplify the spirit of the spiritual community and are a cornerstone for God-consciousness in the western world.
Every year, at these vibrant festivals, thousands of free plates of karma-free vegetarian food are distributed to people within Florida. The goal of the Festival of Chariots team is to take these parades nationally, and even internationally, beyond what is already available. They strive to one day be part of parades in Disney World and other festive venues, bringing Lord Jagannath and his chariot in front of the masses of our modern society.