‘So much healing that we need to do,’ 65th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade returns

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'So much healing that we need to do,' 65th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade returns


For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, big crowds are expected to return to Midtown for the 65th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday morning — a celebration of the island’s food, song and dance.

“Our return to Fifth Avenue is yet another sign that NYC and the Puerto Rican community are strong, resilient and as vibrant as ever,” said the parade’s board chair, Louis Maldonado in a statement. “[We invite] all Boricuas in the New York City area, Puerto Rico and across the patria extendida [diaspora] to join us.”

The parade kicks off on Sunday, June 12th at 11 am at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street and travels north to 79th Street.

Yarimar Bonilla, from the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter/CUNY (also called El Centro), said this year’s parade will feature a special emphasis on climate change, ahead of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island, leaving people stranded without basic services like water and electricity, for months.

“There’s so much healing that we need to do after this pandemic that has caused so much stress. And particularly among Puerto Ricans, who are dealing with, you know, the legacies of colonialism, of climate change, of Hurricane Maria,” Bonilla told WNYC’s Morning Edition host Michael Hill. “We need these community events to celebrate ourselves and remind ourselves of who we are and what we can be when we come together.”

The Puerto Rican Day Parade has its roots in 1958 Spanish Harlem, started by trailblazing Puerto Rican activists like Gilberto Gerena Valentín and Antonia Denis who were community organizers, advocating for the labor and voting rights of Puerto Rican transplants to New York City, Bonilla said.

“At the time Latinos were excluded from voting through literacy requirements. We experienced incredible discrimination in terms of housing, jobs, education,” Bonilla said, adding that while so much has changed for the Puerto Rican diaspora since the parade’s founding, “there’s still a lot that we need to come together for and fight for. ”



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