The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of attendees of the Festival y Desfile de la Independencia de Mexico in Sunset Park.
Held on Sunday, September 9 along Fifth Avenue, the festivities started with a parade from 59th Street to 44th Street.
“We had a really bad, rainy day but that didn’t stop us,” said one of the parade organizers, Claudia Galicia. “We had 300 kids from Sunset Park that were performing in the parade and, rain or shine, they were ready.”
Galicia stressed how important the parade was to the Mexican community; a permit issue had stopped them from holding a Cinco de Mayo celebration.
“It’s been difficult, especially for the Mexican community, because we’ve been a big target of the Trump administration calling us bad hombres and rapists, and that resonated with our kids, with them thinking ‘oh we’re bad,’” she said.
Thanks to the 72nd Precinct, the celebration went on.
“Officer Gerber Fernandez was very instrumental in keeping our spirits up. We applied for September 9, which is the first weekend when we start the celebration of Mexican Independence Day, and we were able to have a lot of the groups march,” Galicia added.
“The 72nd Precinct was so instrumental in this parade because they know we have a lot of kids that would like this and they accommodated us and gave us whatever we needed for this parade,” she went on. “We are very thankful. Sunset Park has had a history with police and community, but finally we are healing and coming together. It’s a great thing that culture is what’s bringing us together.”
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca marched along with attendees and discussed the important of the event.
“September is a special month when we celebrate Hispanic heritage at large, but this past weekend, the Sunset Park family gathered to support our Mexican neighbors,” he said. “Against the difficulties of planning a new event and the grey weather, the parade and festival were a success proving that our community can celebrate and thrive despite the shadow of the federal administration’s inhumane immigration policies.”
Unfortunately, due to the rain, the festival — which had been slated to feature a variety of performances — was cut short.
“We had to end early but we had a lot of dances in the park,” Galicia said. “There was a group of moms called Las Horas who came for the first time. And we had one folk group with almost 100 dancers dancing Jalisco.”
Although many acts didn’t get to perform, the highlight of the festival was unity.
“Even though we face a lot of issues, as a community as long as we are together and support each other, we will be okay,” Galicia said. “People are afraid. Some of the festivals have been empty but, little by little, we’re saying it’s okay. It’s been challenging but our Sunset Park Mexicans came out to celebrate.”
The story of Mexican Independence is one of perseverance and this Sunday’s celebration was yet another example of that,” Menchaca added. “I congratulate the organizers and sponsors for their dedication to bringing our community together.”