History made in Sunset Park at revived Puerto Rican Day Parade

¡Viva Puerto Rico!

History was made in Sunset Park on Sunday, June 14. For the first time in decades, thousands of attendees danced along Fifth Avenue with a sea of red, white and blue flags as community organization El Grito De Sunset Park hosted its first annual Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The festivities, which began at 5 p.m. at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, included nearly 60 vintage cars and motorcycles, attendees marching and a concert at the park.

“This is a great day where we Puerto Ricans come out and celebrate and enjoy the festivities. Everyone is welcome,” said the parade’s Grand Marshal Javier Nieves. “This is not exclusive to the Puerto Rican community but we do want people to become aware of our culture, our contribution to this great country.”

After the long struggle to gain a permit for the parade, organizers were happy to experience the day of peace and solidarity. “This is the people’s parade. It was funded on a grassroots level from a lot of people in the neighborhood and local mom and pop shops. Everyone knew it was time and long overdue to bring the parade back to Fifth Avenue,” said parade organizer and founder of El Grito De Sunset Park Dennis Flores. “This something we’re doing in partnership with the Police Department. It’s a progressive step forward as a community to heal and give justice.”

Lawyer Norman Siegel helped the organization receive the permit. “This is what community spirit is about,” he said. “Hopefully it sends a message not to be afraid of community activists. If you show them respect, everything will work out.”

Former president of the Sunset Park Restoration Committee Daniel Natal traveled from New Jersey to attend the historic parade. “I’m very proud to see the Puerto Rican Day Parade come back to Sunset Park. It’s been many years and long overdue and it’s a time for everyone to celebrate and enjoy their heritage,” he said.

Local dignitaries also marched the parade and discussed the significance of the day. “The Puerto Rican community is too big just to have one parade in New York City,” Borough President Eric Adams said. “You see the number of people that are out here; they want to be a part of history.”

Both participants and attendees understood the significance of the parade. “It’s important for us to have the parade because when I was growing up, they had this parade here so people like to bring it to our kids,” said Ruthy Rivera.

Flores is expecting that the community won’t have to wait another few decades for the next parade. “This is something that we’re going to be doing every year,” promised Flores. “We’re going to make sure. We planted the Puerto Rican flag here and it’s been on solid ground.”

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