Social Issues

Puerto Ricans hold exuberant yearly parade in New York City

New York, Jun 11 (EFE).- Thousands of people on Sunday jammed New York City’s Fifth Avenue, filling it with joy, music and Puerto Rican culture – as well as the red, white and blue of the island’s flag – during the traditional yearly “national” celebration of the US commonwealth, the 66th Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Puerto Ricans came to experience the parade/festival from all over the five boroughs, as well as traveling from other states to New York City – which was the main arrival point for migrants after World War II – shouting with pride “I’m Puerto Rican, just so you know” and singing “What a nice flag the Puerto Rican flag is…”

The yearly parade celebrates the contributions Puerto Ricans have made in the United States, where they have stood out as scientists, soldiers, musicians, artists and athletes, as well as in other areas, the president of the Puerto Rican National Parade, Lillian Rodriguez, said.

With 173 separate contingents and groups and a total of some 25,000 people marching in it, the parade is considered to be the largest of its kind in the US and this year participation for the first time got back to the levels that had been seen before the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year was the first in-person parade to be held after the Covid-19 crisis and this time around Puerto Ricans and other Latinos made the event their own, taking to the streets without hesitation starting early in the day.

This year’s parade, with the theme of “Music, joy and culture,” is the first open-air activity to be held after this past week a number of local outdoor events were suspended due to the thick smoke covering the Big Apple from forest fires up in Canada.

As happens every year, politicians also flocked to the event, including New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the city’s mayor, Eric Adams, who carried in their hands a Puerto Rican flag. In addition, state Attorney General Letitia James was on hand and even took a few dance steps to the Latino rhythms that permeated the atmosphere.

Also, Democratic US Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer of New York asked the crowd rhetorically through a megaphone in Spanish “Where are the Puerto Ricans?”

There were also a number of Puerto Rican musicians on hand, along with the Loiza Aldea dance group, as well as colorful floats and assorted characters – both fictional and real – from Puerto Rican culture.

One of the high points of the festivities was the surprise appearance on a float of the new members of the iconic singing group Menudo, the most successful “boy band” in the history of Spanish-language music and who performed the number “Feelin'” while waving island flags.

Some of the struggles in Puerto Rico itself against privatization of the beaches and for independence from the US were also brought to Fifth Avenue with numerous groups shouting “Puerto Rico won’t be sold” and signs bearing messages such as “The beaches are the people’s,” while others shouted things like “Yankees, Go Home!”

Almost 5 million Puerto Ricans live in the US, hundreds of thousands of them in New York City.

EFE –/bp

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