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Jany Tomba
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PuertoRicans.Com - Exclusive Special Edition From

Puerto-Rican Pride on Fifth!
Jany Tomba

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 human trafficking.

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 cheers.

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

Several young men walked by with their pet snake around their neck.
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 the floats.

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 yards away!
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!