Puerto Rican Day Parade returns to Sunset for second straight year

After making history last year, the Sunset Park Puerto Rican Day Parade, hosted by El Grito de Sunset Park, is returning this summer, much to the delight of local residents.

Last year was the neighborhood’s first parade celebrating Puerto Rican pride in Sunset in nearly 30 years. “People didn’t believe it would be as big or successful as it was,” founder of El Grito, Dennis Flores told this paper. “Now that we’ve proved ourselves, we think people can support it so it can be bigger.”

According to Flores, last year and this year, the 72nd Precinct helped smooth the way for the parade.

In the past, he said, “There has been a lot of negative history about unpermitted parades. There were some clashes with police,” he added, noting that relationships have greatly improved since. “A permit was made easier by the 72nd Precinct. I give a lot of credit to the new captain, Emmanuel Gonzalez. He was born and raised in Sunset Park and is Puerto Rican. He reached out early and we’ve been having meetings regarding logistics to make sure whatever we need is met. We are very grateful.”

Flores also gives credit to the precinct’s former commander, Captain Thomas Ng, who helped with last year’s parade. “Ng should get recognition to make that first step,” he said. “Captain Ng said not one person was arrested and not one person received a summons. There were thousands of people and to not have any accidents was a huge success. By having such a successful parade last year and partnering with the NYPD and building community-police relations, it was great. Everyone did their part.”

Because of the successful foundation that was built last year, El Grito is ready to make this event even bigger. “We are going to have floats and more music since we are more prepared to do something on a grander scale,” Flores said, adding that he wants to involve the community. “We’re reaching out to more organizations and local businesses in coming weeks and reaching out to local schools. We want some school marching bands included.”

Although some were skeptical about how last year’s celebration would fare, its success has locals excited. “Because of an absence of 30 years, people didn’t think it could be done, but when they saw how successful it was, people are so grateful that it’s happening,” Flores explained. “The community took it on to make sure it was peaceful and respectful, and that it would go on without a problem. We received so much feedback and love from the community. This is something that needs to happen. It was organized in an organic way from longtime residents. We have to let people know Puerto Ricans are very much part of community.”

The parade will take place on Sunday, June 12 starting at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue at 5 p.m. The parade will continue down Fifth Avenue to Sunset Park, where there will be a festival, with marchers entering at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue beginning at 7:30 pm.

To  become an official sponsor or to volunteer, email elgritodesunsetpark@gmail.com or call 347-504-1817.

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