About 250 cars topped with glowing menorahs paraded down the Ben Franklin Parkway and through Center City to Independence Mall Monday night in a bright and noisy celebration of Hanukkah.
This was the 10th annual Car Menorah Parade in Philadelphia, sponsored by the Chabad Lubavitch, an Orthodox Jewish movement. With a police escort and music blasting, the cars made their way to Independence Mall, where the real party began.
Yummy suvganiot (jelly-filled doughnuts) from Espresso Cafe in Northeast Philadelphia awaited the paraders after they parked their menorah-topped cars. About 700 gathered to celebrate the third night of Hanukkah.
The party spilled onto blocked-off Market Street as people danced to live music from Choni Melecki, on keyboard, and Peretz Chein, on vocals, playing traditional Jewish and holiday songs.
On hand to light the giant menorah on Independence Mall was Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, the regional director of Lubavitch. Shemtov is credited with erecting the first public Hanukkah menorah in the United States in 1974, when he kindled a small menorah at the foot of the Liberty Bell at Independence Hall.