July 1 Morning March Photos
For the statistical record, the organizers claimed 28,000 participants (or 'around 30,000' participants). The police gave the lower estimate of 20,000. By my observation, the marchers started around 1030am from Hong Kong Stadium and the last marchers left Hong Kong Stadium after 115pm. So it took around 2 hours 45 minutes to clear.
Leading the parade was a fleet of cars including this Humvee. The standard in front says "Care about the ancestor country" and there is a small red-blue-and-white American flag on the door. Go, USA!
This was not a march to demonstrate against something or the other. The demonstration march would happen in the afternoon (see July 1 Afternoon March Photos). The proper analogy for the morning march would be an Independence Day parade in the United States. Indeed, the official theme of this large parade was the celebration of the eighth year of the return of Hong Kong to China. Organizationally, there were 19 umbrella organizations such as rural associations, labor unions, sports clubs, cultural organizations and so on. The march was divided into sections which represented about 850 smaller local organizations, which are usually identifiable by colors. In the following are marching bands, cheer leader squads, folk dancers, sporting clubs, martial arts clubs, and then what seemed to every lion/dragon dancing group in Hong Kong. It is traditional for critics to question the authenticity of such a public manifestation, since the participants have been organized from top-down with transportation, beverages and meal all provided for. You will just have to judge for yourself whether these people were involuntary draftees. According to Ming Pao (via Yahoo! News), these people were heckled by in Wanchai by persons carrying signs that read "July 1st is the day to resign from the Chinese Communist Party!" Do they look like party hacks?
(Technical note: If I am correct, this is the marching band for the convent girls' school that I attended! Go, team!)
This is not to say that the even was completely apolitical. Most of the banners were for identifiable purposes only (e.g. the Checkers Sports Club, the Quarry Bay Residents Association, etc.). The following two represents the two political messages. The first one belongs to the Federation of Trade Unions, and promotes economic development and improve employment and livelihood. It is a comment on the state of politics in Hong Kong that such ideas are considered political. It is considered political in the sense that there is a belief that advocating democracy is equal to creating chaos, thereby halting economic development and hurting employment and livelihood.
In this banner, the right hand side says: "Relay on the people as the base" and the left hand side says: "One Country, Two Systems." The center has two sections about supporting Chairman Hu and Chief Executive SAR.