A beloved Sunset Park tradition returns for locals to celebrate Puerto Rican culture at the annual Boricua Festival Salsa at the Waterfront.
Being held on Saturday, June 24, the free, full-day outdoor event offers local flavor along with music, food, shopping, entertainment and a beautiful view.
Co-Founder and President of the Boricua Festival Committee Pat Ruiz says that the festival, which is celebrating its 19th year, has continued to grow in popularity since its inception.
“I do expect it to be another successful event,” she said. “Ever since we set the date, we’ve had folks saying they’ll be there and they can’t wait so social media has been a great friend. We expect to see lots of people throughout the day.”
Ruiz and the committee want to make sure every attendee has something to enjoy. Festivities include storytelling for the kids, food vendors, appearances by community based organizations, and, of course, dancing.
“People always like the music and the bands performing,” she said. “It’s just a great day, no matter what we have or don’t have. Our budget could be small or large, we always have that following.”
Some old favorites and highlights from last year’s event are returning. “One thing we tried last year that worked really well was having a magician show for the kids,” she said. “Aside for having a little show in the cultural corner, he ended up walking around, so we got a lot of calls whether or not we are going to do that again which we are.”
The scenic setting also separates this festival from others. “The best thing about this is using that pier,” Ruiz said. “People need to take advantage of it and plan things there because it’s a beautiful and underutilized location. We’re proud to use that resource and it’s free.”
Ruiz is also excited that the new NYC Ferry will help raise awareness of and attention to the fun-filled day. “We’re excited about the fact the ferry is going to be running while the festival is going on so that’s another way for folks to get around. Especially with the MTA, you don’t know what’s going on with weekend service so that’s a great thing,” she said. “Also there will be new folks that will have an opportunity when they get off the boat to see what’s going on and participate.”
For a second year, the committee is giving scholarships to local students through the Dr. Antonia Pantoja Service and Leadership Award. “We’re going to be doing five college scholarships this year which will be a $1,000 check,” she said. “We also have one special category this year called the President’s Choice Award, which will be given to a student who took it upon herself to have the Rainbow Park basketball court painted. The project is near to my heart.”
Despite some financial difficulties as some sponsors have dropped out, others have stepped up. “We have been supported by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams with the funding towards the scholarship program so that’s what helps us award a few more kids.” Ruiz said. “Last year we did one and we were really excited about it. He saw what we were doing and immediately reached out to us and asked how he could help.”
The organization also received an allocation from Councilmember Carlos Menchaca.
The Boricua Festival – Salsa at the Waterfront will be held on Saturday, June 24 at Pier 4 at 58th Street and First Avenue from 12-7 p.m. For more information, visit Boricua Festival on Facebook.