Thousands of marchers showed off their Boricua pride Sunday, taking over Fifth Ave. for the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade, New York’s Daily News reports.
Crowds decked out in red and white waved Puerto Rican flags or draped them around their shoulders, cheering and blowing horns.
“From generation to generation to generation, it’s important to continue our heritage and pass it on,” said Henry Guttierez, 34, who lives in the Bronx’s Riverdale neighborhood and brought his 18-month-old son.
“It connect us back to the land … Once a year we get together and everyone’s Puerto Rican, no matter where you come from.”
Maria Gonzalez, 56, of Castle Hill, waved a Puerto Rican flag as she danced to music from a passing float. It’s her 42nd year at the parade, a tradition that began when she was 14 and came with her mom. This year, the San Juan native brought her son and granddaughter.
“We come in all colors, all shapes, all sizes, and today everybody’s represented,” she said. “It’s my parade. Nobody can take this from me.”
The crowd was also thrilled about President Obama’s planned visit to the island Tuesday – the first trip to Puerto Rico by a sitting president in 50 years, when John F. Kennedy visited.
“The visit is long overdue,” said Tito Morales, 39, of New Bedford. “Puerto Rico is so small, and doesn’t always affect the continental U.S. But he should have more presence there. You don’t need a passport to go there. It’s about time!”
“They’ll welcome him with open arms,” added Luis Esvalona, 39, of Elizabeth, N.J.
Esvalona said he’s hoping for more than just a photo op. “Jobs are real bad out there,” he said. “Maybe [Obama] can find something to make the economy better.”
Reggaeton and salsa music blasted from speakers amid a sea of Puerto Rican flags as kids scaled traffic light poles for a better view.
Puerto Rican band El Gran Combo and comedian John Leguizamo headlined the parade, and singer Eli Palacios serenaded the crowd from atop the Daily News float.
“I like the entertainment, the music, but the best is the kids dancing,” said Monaia de la Garcia, 18, who traveled from Philadelphia. “Que bonita!”
Non-Puerto Ricans also joined in the fun. “It’s much better than on TV. I fell in love with Latin music,” said Anastasiya Lotokhova, 30, a native of Russia who lives in Brighton Beach. “It’s a lot of energy. You just want to scream, too. It’s amazing.”