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Millions of Beautiful Flags Waving on 5th Avenue for the Puerto Rican Day Parade

12 Jun
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Vejigantes Take Over 5th Avenue

     The anticipation was building up on the parade route on 5th Avenue with horns blasting, flags waving, speakers blasting and that was just the crowd. Well over 1 million people attended what parade sponsors named America’s Largest Cultural Event. Celebrating the 62nd year of Puerto Rican culture and contribution to the fabric of this city and our country, the event was televised nationally for millions of viewers. It’s also a chance for people to come up from the island and unite with friends and family and march or dance in one of the largest parades of the year. Before the mounted police signaled the start of the parade, a traditional dance was performed by the stage and reviewing stand on 68th St. to usher in good luck and positive results.

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Cortez Working the Crowd

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Ricky Martin Living La Vida Loca

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Getting Started Early

 

     Parade Grand Marshall Ricky Martin really got the crowd worked up on the loud and proud Loiza float. All throughout the parade, themes of female empowerment were front and center. One proud Bronxite was newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez jogging up the parade route. She got lots of love from the adoring crowd.  A perennial favorite is Bombazo Dance Co. and the salsa band representing the NY State Nurses Association. They were really on point. Getting the crowd to raise their flags in unison was the 1199 SEIU float. There was a significant call for movement for Independence and calls to cancel the debt that has been stifling growth on the island.

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Loiza Dancers Having Fun

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Vieques Marchers Going West Indian Style

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Baton Twirlers Getting Ready

 

     Puerto Rican culture was proudly displayed with a group from a close neighbor island of Vieques dancing to a West Indian tune. The Batuteras de Guaynabo are a crowd favorite. They can twirl their batons with the best of them. A new group from the University of Puerto Rico performed beautifully with their dancers and singers. Loiza is a small town in the northern part of Puerto Rico that kept true to their African roots and was on full display with their dancers and float.

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Sorority Dancers

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University of PR

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ATA Fraternity

 

     Puerto Ricans loved to dance and love their cars. Some of the best choreographed moves came from the ATA Fraternity and the XTC Sorority. They really got into it. The group with the most swag was Dancers Dreamzzz. They always represent well. Paying their respects to Puerto Ricans on their day were the Highsteppers with their signature dance moves.  The parade of Polaris 2 wheel cars and jacked up jeeps was jaw dropping. My personal favorite was the Hulk Jeep with monster speakers just shook the ground. The decibel level was off the charts and the crowd just couldn’t get enough.

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The Hulk Jeep

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MLB Slugger Edgar Martinez

     This parade showed off some of the best Puerto Rico has to offer in all aspects of life. In sports, three champions of their game received lots of applause were golf legend Chi Chi Rodriguez, baseball slugger Edgar Martinez and current professional boxer Amanda Serrano.  In the arts, Jose Feliciano waves to his adoring fans while La India and Salsa legend Bobby Sepulveda got lots of love. This is one of the best parades of the year so far and typically marks the unofficial start of summer. Yo Soy Boricua Pa Que Tu Lo Sepa. 

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Que Bonita Bandera…What A Beautiful Flag

 

 

 

 

What A Beautiful Flag..The Puerto Rican Flag…

14 Jun

    June is the busiest parade month of the year and it’s also fitting that the largest parade in NYC is held this month. Rachel and I were getting ready for the start of the 54th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade and the 16th as a National Organization. With a record 80,000 marchers scheduled to show their Puerto Rican pride up 5th Ave. from 46th St. to 79th St., security was tight around the area where the marchers were getting ready so Rachel and I weren’t able to see the preparations for the big parade. Many of the marchers are invited guests from the island of Puerto Rico representing their pueblos with marchers and bands. This year the main pueblos were Cabo Rojo celebrating its 240th anniversary and Patillas celebrating their 200th anniversary. This year’s theme of the parade is “Celebrating the natural beauty of Puerto Rico”. With just a few minutes left before the parade started, the streets were filled with revelers waving their flags and blowing their whistles and horns. It felt more like the countdown to New Year’s The NYC Marching Band started out with good old blue eyes rendition of New York, New York. For a second I thought I was at Yankee Stadium after a win.  Parades this large always draw the big politicians and all the heavyweights were out today including the honorable Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo standing next the former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and other parade VIPs.  Then the fun really started.

                           

       The first float and marchers from Cabo Rojo appeared followed by the municipal leaders and  marching band and salsa band with young dancers in colorful gowns showing off their dance moves to the cheering crowd. They all dressed in the navy blue polo shirts to match the color of the municipal flag. Right after them came the Patillas float singing the parade favorite song….Que Bonita Bandera..what a beautiful flag…the Puerto Rican flag. The sounds of salsa music filled the air as people were dancing in the streets and showing off their Puerto Rican pride. One of the largest Puerto Rican flags was carried out by the Goya float. The Grand Marshalls of this year’s parade are the president of Goya  Foods, Inc, Robert I.  Unanue and president of Goya Foods Puerto Rico, Carlos Unanue presented one of the better displays of Puerto Rican pride especially with the sponsorship of the thunderous all female drum band Batala. They were a crowd pleaser and really set the tone for the rest of the procession which can be best described as loud and proud.

     Preserving their goal of celebrating the natural beauty of the island was the world renown Sierra Club. They helped to educate the crowd of the need to protect the natural environment of the land shared with the some endangered animals like the leatherback sea turtle.  On that green theme were also two groups of bike clubs that rode their tricked out pedal bikes up 5th Ave.  One man’s bike might have had hydraulics for the front tire.  A treat for most revelers is watching the young children dancing and dressed up. They surely were not disappointed. Getting family and friends together to celebrate Puerto Rican pride is a thrill for many and Rachel and I saw the excitement on the faces of the Aponte and Cruz families. Baudilio Cruz came from Cabo Rojo to see his first ever Puerto Rican parade and was happy with everything he saw. He was joined with his family and parade veteran Jesus Aponte, a retired police officer from Staten Island.  We were all getting anxious to see this years Kings of the Parade, salsa legendary band, El Gran Combo. They were playing  great music in the 80s and any salsero will tell you they are the best of the best. The blaring trumpets of one of their most popular hits, Un Verano en Nueva York (A Summer in NY), and the incredible salsa dancers signaled their arrival. Even though their music has been played in every parade since the 80s, this was actually their first parade in person. What a blast!!

                           

     A parade just isn’t a parade without a marching band and although NYC has hundreds to choose from, it was a treat to see two marching bands from Juncos and Guaynabo Puerto Rico show the crowd their style. Not bad.  A procession of salsa and bomba y plena dancers made their way to the cheers of the crowd. The float from Loiza got plenty of attention from their dancers and men dressed up in diablo costumes.  Dancers Dreamzzz got one of the largest cheers from the crowd as the young dancers turned it out mixing old school styles and new styles. The tail end of the parade was no doubt the loudest as car clubs blasted their salsa, reggaeton and hip hop from their monster speakers. The dancing in the streets just kept going to close to 6pm with over 2 million in attendance hoping the parade would continue. Arguably the loudest and proudest parade had to come to a close …until next year …

 Yo soy Boricua…pa que tu lo sepa.

For more report and photos click on these CNN links below:

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-621707

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-621709

Next parades:

Sat. June 18th ~ Mermaid Parade~ W. 21st St and Surf Ave. Coney Island ~ 2pm

Sun June 26th ~ Pride Parade ~ 36th St and 5th Ave. ~ noon

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