The 2014 edition of the Puerto Rican Day Parade produced the usual enthusiasm, flag waving, and celebrities and politicians. But this reporters view of the event was different because it was from the vantage point of the parade marchers.
For many years watching on television and viewing parades from the sidelines always provided great theater on the streets of Fifth Avenue. But on this occasion, I got a close up of the people, showering love and pride, as I traversed the path many have taken before, only a few feet away from the front of the parade.
The images that stand out is Nydia Velazquez, walking proud and dancing solos every few blocks with a spirit that defines all Puerto Ricans. Residente of Calle 13, with his free Oscar Lopez Rivera shirt, a reminder of the Puerto Rican political prisoners still imprisioned and the look on his face of the immense magnitude of the event.
Lauren Velezk, Victor Cruz, and Rosie Perez were among the known and politicans Joseph Serrano as well as the Mayor, Bill DiBlasio, working the sidelines, giving kisses and generally being received well.
But it was the people who make this event. Not just the young men and women, but the mothers, and especially the grandmothers, who waved a flag or had a their municipality banner displayed. The violin orchestra from Puerto Rico, who played Marc Anthony‘s song, “Vivir Mi Vida.” The greetings between Velazquez and a Bishop before St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a symbol of the love and respect for the Roman Catholic faith, still very strong in the Latino Community.
For myself it was an opportunity to witness a nation, separated politically, but U.S. Citizen’s just the same. In a country that has seen an influx of many new people from various countries, this event reminded all that there is still a significant number of Puerto Ricans here and that they continue to do great things on the local and world stage, and thats something to celebrate.