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And now, as the parade enters its 20th anniversary celebration, the number of participants continues to grow, with over 120 organizations from throughout the Bronx, New York, the U.S. and Puerto Rico taking part in the cultural celebration kicking on Sunday, May 18, through the Grand Concourse.
“The parade is growing exponentially,” confirmed Francisco Gonzalez, president of the Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc.
“We marched throughout the Bronx and watched more and more people get involved each year,” he added. “It doesn’t happen by accident. Our organizers work really hard, coming up with different strategies and methods to get the word out.”
While nowhere near as big as the parade featured in Manhattan, Gonzalez feels the Bronx’ culture celebration presents a different flavor to spectators.
“The parade in Manhattan is very corporate,” he said. “We’ll have dancing groups, singers and marching bands, and a great majority of them will come from the local community. This is as much a celebration of the Bronx as it is Puerto Rican heritage. We want to maintain that feel for years to come.”
On that end, this year’s Grand Marshal will be none other than Borough President Adolfo Carrion, who has been chosen for his years of leadership in the borough and commitment to the Puerto Rican community and all the diverse Bronx groups.
“Adolfo has been a good example of Hispanic leadership in our city,” Gonzalez said, crediting the borough president with the Bronx’ growth.
He added that both former Bronxites and other Puerto Ricans are now inclined to seek out cultural events in the borough.
“We migrate out and affect others with our culture, and now folks want to come back home,” Gonzalez said.
Groups from seven states have contacted the parade asking to march alongside the usual Bronx participants, but before the big day, residents from all over the borough will embark on a month-long celebration of Puerto Rican culture.
A number of ceremonies are leading up to the parade.
On Friday, May 2, at noon, Benjamin Sanchez, who was in the Army during the Vietnam War, earning a purple heart for his heroics overseas, will be named the Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade Veteran of the Year during a ceremony at the Old West Farms Soldiers’ Cemetery at 180th Street and Bryant Avenue.
The following week, on May 9, the Ms. Puerto Rico Coronation will take place at Hostos Community College, 500 Grand Concourse, at 7 p.m.
On Thursday, May 15, at 7 p.m., the 20th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade Banquet at Villa Barone Manor, at 737 Throggs Neck Expressway, will feature musical entertainment and the exhibition of painter James “Sexer” Rodriguez’s most recent works, some of which will be raffled off at the event.
A free concert, featuring Los Trios, will take place on May 16, just two days before the parade at Lincoln Hospital Auditorium, at Morris Avenue and 149th Street.
And then, the main event, as residents crowd the streets of the Bronx to showcase their Puerto Rican pride on Sunday, May 18, with the kickoff of the parade at 11 a.m. at 176th Street.
Elected leaders, local community groups, schools, marching bands, performers and various Hispanic-based organizations will traverse the streets of Grand Concourse with the culmination of the parade taking place at 167th Street at 4 p.m.
For more information on upcoming events, including the parade, go to www.bronxprparade.com.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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