Puerto Rican pride!
For the third straight year, Sunset Park played host to its own Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival, much to the delight of locals and people that traveled from different areas to support the prideful day, which was held on Sunday, June 11 and organized by El Grito de Sunset Park.
“Everybody had a good time,” said Dennis Flores, organizer of the growing parade. “This parade creates an outlet and an alternative. So, on that front we were successful because there were close to 15,000 people there and for there not to be any major incidents, it’s something to recognize and celebrate. The main reason we’ve done this parade is to call attention to the relationship between community and police so there could be a continuation of celebration.”
The parade started at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue and ended at 44th Street. The festival took place in the park.
“The park aspect was better this year with the festival,” he said. “We had the stage moved from last year into a better location so we had a really beautiful view. We had two orchestras this time. There was live music, so many people were dancing and having a good time.”
The parade portion also included several more floats than last year, as well as raising funds. “We raised money for mom and pop shops and the few that support us,” he said. “We’re not in a situation where we could compete with any giant festival sponsored by any corporation. This is grass roots and it’s a community level process where we are engaging our community.
Despite the parade’s continued success, organizers still dealt with hardships. “These events are not easy to do and we don’t get a lot of volunteers,” Flores said. “It’s a handful of us but the sacrifice was worth it.”
The organization also wants to raise awareness about the political climate in Puerto Rico. “The lack of information is very unfortunate. Not enough is being done,” he said. “People without knowledge of history are easy to fool.”
Flores is satisfied that the parade continues to thrive. “I’m happy it’s growing,” he said. “These types of things don’t just take off in a year or two. It takes a while to build this up. We hope our parade symbolizes education in our community.”