¡Viva Puerto Rico!
With El Grito de Sunset Park’s second annual Puerto Rican Day in Sunset Park quickly approaching, members of the organization and community are making preparations for the growing tradition.
On Saturday, May 28, the festivities began as El Grito hosted a mini celebration at 49th Street and Fifth Avenue. Along with raising funds for the parade by selling merchandise, playing Bomba music and previewing the cars and motorcycles that will appear in the Sunday, June 12 parade, a mural was painted in honor of Yvonne Cruz, a longtime Sunset resident who recently died of cancer.
Cruz had played an integral role in helping launch last year’s first Sunset Puerto Rican Day parade in decades.
Graffiti artist Robin Padro was given the task of creating the mural which was painted outside of where Cruz lived on and off for 30 years. “Dennis [Flores] reached out to me because I grew up in Sunset Park and he wanted a local artist,” said Padro. “This means a lot being from Brooklyn. Sunset Park has a big Puerto Rican community. I think it’s important that people know the history of the neighborhood.”
Danny Moran, who was Cruz’s husband, and organizes all the car clubs and motorcycle clubs for the parade, is honored to have the community remember her. “The mural means a lot. She was a big part of setting up and celebrating the parade,” he said, adding that she was beloved by Sunset. “She was very well known in the area. Over 800 people from the neighborhood attended the funeral. She was very loved and a big part of this community.”
As for the preview celebration, “It went smoothly. We had folks playing Bomba y Plena,” said Dennis Flores, founder of El Grito. “A big crowd of excited residents watched as Robin painted, and enjoyed the music. “
With all the prep work, organizers expect this year’s parade to be bigger than last year’s. “We expect it will be larger and more colorful,” said organizer and former Assemblymember Javier Nieves, who was the grand marshal of last year’s parade. “We want to keep local flavor and maintain a community type of parade. We want to use this as a teaching tool for our young brothers and sisters. This is open to everyone. Sunset Park is a welcoming community.”
In addition, as part of its parade preparations, El Grito has just announced the Madrina and Padrino of the parade. The Madrina is longtime educator, author and performer Maritza Arrastia. The Padrino will be actor, veteran and signer J.W. Cortes, a Sunset Park native.
The organization is seeking volunteers and sponsors for the event. To learn more about the parade, visit El Grito de Sunset Park on Facebook.