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Puerto-Rican Pride on Fifth!
NYC Sunday June 10 2007.- Puerto-Rican pride was loud
and clear on Fifth Avenue Sunday June 10 2007. It was
the 50th year of the parade on Fifth.
It was slightly past noon when I approached Madison
Avenue and 69th Street on the upper east side of Manhattan.
The crowd was immersed in a sea of red blue and white
and flying star. Already access to Fifth Avenue the
major artery bordering Central Park had been closed.
I however found an opening on 70th Street, which drew
me to the cheering crowd.
I caught a glimpse of an energetic tall and beautiful
Pop Star Ricky Martin sporting a white top and waving
the Puerto-Rican flag. He was the King of the Parade
and stood on top of the float of the Ricky Martin Foundation
an organization involved in saving children from abuse
and exploitation in many countries. Their goal is stop
I elbowed myself through the crowd until I found the
perfect spot, which I hoarded for the next three hours.
The wall of the Frick Museum provided shelter from the
mingling crowd, and a good place to lean while waiting
for the next exciting group to march dance and cheer.
Although the top of the cement wall would have been
the perfect sitting spot to watch the parade, none of
the parade goers climbed the structure. I did however
overheard a group of teenagers who toyed with the idea
but were quickly discouraged by older ones. The crowd
was very respectful of the environment and of each other.
The Police department, the Fire department marched by
with lots of applause from onlookers but I noticed it
was the Sanitation department that received the loudest
Corporations also made their presence known by distributing
promotional items: DonQ the rhum makers gave away fans;
Goody gave away plastic pick combs; Goya had a huge
float and others as well. Other promoters came by with
flyers advertising upcoming events.
The crowd sported colorful outfits clearly showing their
pride: from sideways caps to sneakers and jersey shirts
all was festive. It looks as if they had planned their
outfits ahead of time and Fifth Avenue became the catwalk
for Puerto-Rican Pride.
I could not help but wonder if most ordered their jerseys
and other accessories from www.puertoricans.com
Several young men walked by with their pet snake around
A brief encounter of two strangers demonstrated the
sensitivity they shared for their background as both
young men hugged the same type of snake and shared pleasantries
about their pets.
Young and old mixed, bonded by the love for Puerto-Rico,
the culture, the music, and mostly the spirit. Unconsciously
feet moved to the beat of the Salsa music coming from
I was well received as if I had been invited to a backyard
party by new neighbors. Even though it was a crowded
public event a sense of intimacy emanated from this
sea of red white and blue. An old man Raul from the
Bronx insisted on buying me a Puerto-Rican flag; in
a welcoming way with his smiley glassy eyes and friendly
toothless smile he said: “today you are PuertoRican!”
When the float carrying the Movie Stars Marc Anthony
and Jennifer Lopez promoting their movie El Cantante
the crowd erupted in a roar that probably could be heard
for miles. The love and energy was palpable and everyone
was yelling in unison BORICUA! I found myself joining
in the pride for Puerto-Rico and I secretly swear that
Marc Anthony and I had a fleeting connection as he waved
just to me? Or was it to the crowd from his float 100
As the Movie Stars faded away the Star of the Puerto-Rican
Banner kept on waving and the fans were happy.
Until next year: Que Viva La Bandera!