Monday, June 14, 2010

Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC

Yesterday was one of many parades in NYC honoring the diversity and cultural heritage of the city.  For the many international readers, I didn’t have a camera, so you will have to visualize to get a better perspective. 

They say there were two million people in attendance along the Fifth avenue route, most of who were of Puerto Rican decent.  That’s a lot of Puerto Ricans.  NYC has a larger population than San Juan.

On Saturday, before the parade, I was riding the subway into Brooklyn to meet friends for dinner.  About half of the riders in my subway car were wearing the colors of the Puerto Rican flag.  Everyone was celebrating their heritage and preparing for the upcoming parade.  Riders were decked out in white, red and blue t-shirts, hats, necklaces, bracelets, I even saw sneakers with little flags sewn onto the part that sticks out above the laces.  One lady had her baby’s stroller outfitted with Puerto Rican flags. 

The flag is a big deal.  Whoever sells those flags has got to be a millionaire by today.  Everyone on the street is carrying and waving a Puerto Rican flag.  Hundreds of cars have the flag hanging out the windows or emblazoned on the hood.  People are literally wrapped in their flag.

Not to be confused with the West Indian Day parade in September, there is certainly a Caribbean element to the festivities, with several island cultures gathering together to support their Puerto Rican brethren.  I overheard one mother telling her son with great pride that everyone their group was a “can”…Puerto Ri”can”, Dominican, even Jamaican.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that we were all Ameri”can”.

The parade is very loud and colorful.  Perhaps a little garish and gaudy, but that’s not necessarily Puerto Rican.  The flashy aspect is unfortunately more American than anything else.  That obsessive compulsion for emblazoned logos and putting everything out on the front lawn for all to see.

I think the Puerto Rican perspective is more about extreme pride and passion.  Strong passion for music and food and, and an intense pride in celebrating Puerto Rican heritage.

Happy belated Puerto Rican Day.

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