Tag Archives: puerto rican day parade

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

12 Jun

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.


Cortez Working the Crowd


Ricky Martin Living La Vida Loca


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.


Loiza Dancers Having Fun


Vieques Marchers Going West Indian Style


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.


Sorority Dancers


University of PR


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.



The Hulk Jeep


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





Puerto Ricans Turn Celebration Into Remembrance

11 Jun

Mourning Those Lost After Hurricane Maria

      The parade route along 5th Avenue was getting louder as the 61st annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade was due to kick off around 11am. This is one of the largest and loudest parades the city offers with marchers coming in from all around the country and groups coming in from the island of Puerto Rico as a show of unity. Many signs along the parade route were a reminder of the devastation Hurricane Maria inflicted on the island. The more popular ones were Puerto Rico Se Levanta (Puerto Rico will Rise) and signs with the numbers 4,645+, an estimate of the total death count from September 20 through December 31, 2017, as conducted by a recent study from Harvard University. This figure has turned into a rallying cry as another example of the disparity of what has been reported by the Federal response, which is 64 deaths, and what is actually happening on the island.  New York Representative Nydia Velazquez has called on Congress to create an independent commission to investigate the true mortality rate and hurricane responsiveness and preparation so that the painfully slow response and recovery does not happen again. NY heavyweights like NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo and NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, in a pre-parade breakfast, supported the creation of the commission. Meanwhile, there are about 11,000 homes in Puerto Rico still without power and it might take another two months for full restoration, that is, if another hurricane doesn’t hit by then. This is unacceptable and part of that frustration was clearly visible by both the marchers and parade viewers.  As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade with much excitement and lots of noise from the crowd to get things started.


A Call For Accountability


Grand Marshall Esai Morales


Radio Personalities Lulu and Lala


     The NYPD Marching Band got things kicked off soon followed by parade dignitaries and politicians letting the crowd know they were there to help push the recovery effort. The parade was also a big chance to honor all the first responders that volunteered their time to help in a time of need. Nurses, firefighters, energy repair technicians, truck drivers all had a hand in the initial phase of the recovery. But more needs to be done. NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo got the most love from the crowd since he has been a champion for the disaster relief effort since the beginning. Both NY State and City had sent trucks and personnel to restore power to thousands of homes and help in the clean-up effort.  But there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. After the politicians left, then the party started. The first of the music floats to arrive were The Jara from the NYPD Hispanic Society. Each year, the various pueblos in PR send their representatives to march. Although the headcount was down for obvious reasons, Morovis and Salinas had the biggest groups and were shown much love by the crowd.


What A Beautiful Flag!!


Mr. and Mrs. Jorge Posada


Representing the Heroes


     Honorees of the parade rolled down in convertible cars with the crowd cheering them on and taking plenty of pictures.  Leading the way was Grand Marshall Esai Morales, leading man in several movie and TV hits like Chicago PD and La Bamba. He has helped breakdown stereotypes of Hispanic roles throughout the years.  Soon after came former Miss Universe 2006, Zuleyka Rivera, Queen of the Parade.   Famed news reporter, David Begnaud, was also honored for his outstanding reporting on the island after Hurricane Maria’s aftermath.  Lawyer and TV personality from The View, Sunny Hostin, got her dream come true to be honored as  an Ambassador. My personal favorite honoree, former NY Yankee catcher Jorge Posada and his wife were honored for their work in helping cure a disease their son was afflicted with.  Local radio stations were all present, both English and Spanish with KTU twin hosts Lulu and Lala making the biggest splash. Puerto Ricans love their music and dance. Many dance groups show up to show off their moves. One group that stood out was a small but energetic group dancing to a parade favorite song…Que Bonita Bandera (Such a Beautiful Flag).


A Rallying Cry for those Lost


Beauty Queen Enjoying the Parade


Costumes of Vejigantes


     Every now and then we get a special treat and this parade was no exception. A float with Tito Puente Jr. arrived led by the Eddie Torres Jr. dance group.  Both were on their A game and showed the crowd the beauty of and fun of music and dance done the Puerto Rican way ..con mucho sabor…(done in great taste and style). Both men carried on the torches of their legendary fathers in their way. That truly was one of the best highlights of the parade. A perennial favorite is the NYS Nurses Associations float with their live band and sizzling singer. They always get the crowd worked up. As a change of pace to the usual blaring brass and rhythmic drum beats was a tribute to the most romantic music. The Tuna Mayaguenzana float had a dozen singers reminiscing of the beauty of the island through Boleros.   That was a nice treat especially for the older folks that heard that music growing up on the island. Another crowd favorite is the Taino Towers float from El Barrio in Spanish Harlem. This year, they made their own version of the Santana hit Maria,Maria.  The lower East Side of NYC is home to a group of Puerto Ricans from Loiza and their group came to represent with a colorful float and fun dancers and drummers.  They were a lot of fun and played to the crowd well.  One of the best dance groups of the parade is XDance. The crowd always gives them much love for the great choreography and dance costumes.

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Working The Crowd


XDance Having Fun


Resistance Moving Forward


     In between all the fun dance floats were reminders of the suffering of the devastation and the slow response to the disaster of Hurricane Maria.  It was also a call for action to help continue the efforts to support the people of Puerto Rico by doing anything you can. Joining a group, or volunteer your time in an effort to help our fellow Americans. Even contacting your local representatives to apply more pressure for help to Puerto Rico. This is not an issue that can be forgotten or swept under the rug because  another topic made it to the news cycle. As the parade winded down, it made me proud to be a native New Yorker and even more proud to have a strong heritage that will not allow obstacles whether natural or man-made get in the way. Yo Soy Boricua Pa Que Tu Lo Sepa!!


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See You Next Year







A Beautiful Flag Raised by Millions at the Puerto Rican Day Parade

17 Jun
Dancing at the Puerto Rican Day Parade

Dancing at the Puerto Rican Day Parade

The sizzling hot Sunday afternoon was only matched by the blazing hot salsa music and dancers showing off their moves at the Puerto Rican National Day Parade. This is by far one of the largest and loudest parades the city hosts. An estimated 1 million people packed the parade route on 5th Ave from 44th to 79th Sts. and waved their flags in approval for the over 10,000 marchers. They were not disappointed as celebrities as Grand Marshall actress Rita Moreno, actress and parade Queen Roselyn Sanchez, and salsa singer and Parade King Victor Manuelle got the crowd worked up in what would be a day of celebration of culture, history, music and love of everything Puerto Rican.  Even Mayor DeBlasio got in the mix and took a selfie with a reveler. Each year a different pueblo in Puerto Rico is highlighted to display some cultural expression and history. This year the pueblo of Anasco sent a large group with dancers, singers and a float commemorating when the Spaniards and Taino Indians met in the Rio Grande of Anasco. They sent a salsa band that really got into the moment and played with lots of energy.

Grand Marshall Rita Moreno and her two grandsons

Grand Marshall Rita Moreno and her two grandsons

Parade King Victor Manuelle

Parade King Victor Manuelle

Parade Queen Roselyn Sanchez

Parade Queen Roselyn Sanchez

Mayor de Blasio getting in on a selfie

Mayor de Blasio getting in on a selfie

As in most large parades as this, there are always groups that seek to raise awareness of social issues. There were calls to release Oscar Lopez Rivera from a 75 year prison sentence. A large group asked Pres. Obama why funding for healthcare for Puerto Ricans is less than other Americans. For the first time the League of Women’s Voters had their float and encouraged women to register to vote and have a voice in our political system. Another float was expressing the push for a $15 minimum wage to help improve the income disparity in the city.

Taino Indian from Anasco

Taino Indian from Anasco

Cute dancer from Anasco

Cute dancer from Anasco

Costumes of Hatillo

Costumes of Hatillo

One float that got the biggest applause was the crowd favorite with Tito El Bambino performing his popular songs. This years theme was to highlight the African contribution to Puerto Rican culture. One group that distinguished themselves were the group from El Barrio in Spanish Harlem called Taino Towers. They played some classic salsa songs that had the crowd singing with them. Even Batman got in on the action when a float playing live salsa music got the Dark Knight to show off some moves. Another float had conga drummers getting dancers all worked up. They were fun to watch but think they would have been better dancing on the street instead of on a float. An interesting float payed homage to the masks of Hatillo with people dressed as though they were in an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole. They were having fun. It’s always a nice surprise to hear some good music from an unexpected source like that of the Hispanic Society of NYPD float. They tore it up and the crowd loved it. Puerto Ricans love their cars and there lots of customized wheels on the parade route….even a pair of the hot new Slingshots made it to the parade. And for all you music lovers there was one van with doors of speakers on top of speakers. It was just crazy and loud and just beautiful. You know its beautiful when three generations of a family can come down to Central Park and 5th Ave. to see a whole bunch of loud and fun people letting everyone know just how proud they are to be Puerto Rican. Yo soy Boricua pa que tu lo sepa!!

Its a family affair

Its a family affair

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Puerto Ricans Celebrate in Style on 5th Ave.

10 Jun


The heat was just starting to kick in just before 11am when the mounted police announced the start of the 57th annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade up 5th Ave. The good weather helped bring well over a million people out to cheer on the marchers. This was the first Puerto Rican parade that Bill DeBlasio  walked as Mayor. He was soon followed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the rest of the City Council. Then the fun started. Parade Queen Rosie Perez waved to the crowd. Another  favorite, Giants WR Victor Cruz, made an appearance. Everyone was waiting for his signature salsa dance moves.  Every year a different town in Puerto Rico is honored and their representatives are sent to display their music and culture. This year the town of Guanica sent a youth violin orchestra that played very well. Young ladies dressed in tradition Spanish attire drew wows from the crowd. Floats with salsa music blared through speakers getting the salsa dancers ready to show off their hot moves. There was a large group marching with Free Oscar Lopez signs. They provided many pamphlets and awareness to the political prisoners and their request for freedom after being imprisoned for 33 years. A float with Fania All-Star lead singer Ismael Miranda really got the crowd worked up. There was much love and respect given to the 65th Regiment known as The Borinqueneers. A really nice treat was an all-woman salsa music band that was on fire. There were plenty of salsa dancers strutting their stuff. This parade is known as the loudest and proudest of all the parades and it certainly lived up to it.

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Puerto Ricans Bring Their Flags to Fifth Ave.

11 Jun

Puerto Rican Day Parade 2013

     The unofficial start of the summer usually happens on the second Sunday in June when the National Puerto Rican Day Parade kicks off on 5th Ave. and 38th St. and makes its way up the parade route ending at 74th St. where well over a million parade revelers waved flags and danced to salsa and hip-hop. Marking the 56th anniversary of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade was an honor to both the state of Rhode Island and the pueblo of Guayanilla. This year’s parade theme was Salud: Celebrating your health. The sun-filled day was perfect for thousands of marchers to show off their Puerto Rican power and pride and show off some of their dance moves. As usual the mounted police signaled the start of the parade soon after followed by the Honorable Mayor Bloomberg. The excitement was building soon after as more parade VIPs including NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and mayoral candidates marched up the parade route waving to potential voters for the big election come November. Then the fun started. Grand Marshall Chita Rivera was driven up the parade route waving to the crowd like the royalty of entertainment she earned.

banda escolar de guayanillaPuerto Rican Parade 2013 048Puerto Rican Parade 2013 082

     The honored town or pueblo of Guayanilla sent their representatives to the parade and proudly waved the flag just before two impressive High School bands marched playing some classic Latin jazz hits. They could compete against any American HS band. Next came a crowd favorite..  the all female drum band called Batala from DC. They rocked as usual. Keeping the tradition of authentic costume, music and dance were some plena dancers. One float representing a local union 1199 Healthcare workers  had the best plena singer I have seen in a while. They got the crowd worked up for another annual favorite..Estrellas Tropicales, the all-female baton twirlers from Boston. They had a fun dance routine and kept the flow going. Taking it to the next level was Sky Blue from LFMAO with 92.3 NOW-FM radio personalities, the lovely Lala and Lulu on the front of the float getting the crowd worked up to a fever pitch. Keeping the crowd worked up were more celebrities including legendary salsa singer Jose “El Canario” Alberto, the various talking heads from Univision news, but the one that got the most attention was the Colombian superstar Carlos Vives.

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     A special treat from the island were the Ballet Folklorico from Vega Alta with their unique dance moves that kept the crowd worked up. They were not to be outdone by another dance studio,Pointe, with a more modern flare from the pueblo of Aguada. Everyone that goes to the parade knows when the group from Loiza comes in. The demon masked costumes and acrobatic stilt walkers make them instant hits. More salsa music came jamming from another local union float with a timbale player that was channeling Tito Puente for a bit. One thing about this parade that stands out is the selection of fine automobiles brought in from the island and locally. From antique vehicles to hot rods to suped up low riders, the car enthusiast was not disappointed at all.  A pleasant surprise was a salsa dance group from Manhattan called Young Ambition that showed how teens can really dance salsa…great to see the tradition passed on and the young ones embracing the art form. Vaya…. Closing out the parade were some favorites including Daddy Yankee, John Brackett, and the crowd for 1st International Hip Hop Parade coming up in July in the Bronx.  The parade was very much representative of the Puerto Rican community …loud and proud and lots of fun to be with…and more than anything..enjoying life.

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Yo Soy Boricua…Pa que tu lo sepa….

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:



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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