New York City’s Puerto Rican pride will be on full display this Sunday for the 59th annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Some 1.5 million spectators are expected to line Fifth Avenue during the parade, which features music, dance, floats and more.
New York has the largest Puerto Rican population outside of Puerto Rico, with about 717,000 residents, according to the 2014 American Community Survey.
This year’s parade, though, recognizes the achievements of Puerto Ricans everywhere, with the theme, “Un Pueblo, Muchas Voces” (One Nation, Many Voices). There is also a special dedication going to Florida, which has the fastest-growing population of Puerto Ricans of any state outside of the island.
The parade comes at a time when Nuyoricans are concerned about the future of their native homeland. A 10-year recession and debt crisis have resulted in massive layoffs, a 45% poverty rate and residents leaving the island in record numbers.
Despite the hardships, the parade organizers are striking a positive note.
“This year, in face of Puerto Rico’s humanitarian and fiscal crisis, and the upcoming national elections, we wanted to recognize the voices, talent and good contributions of Puerto Ricans to all aspects of life,” said parade chairwoman Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez in a statement. “We also seek to emphasize unity, as we work together to identify solutions to the crisis and encourage voter registration and awareness.”
Parade honorees include retired baseball player Candy Maldonado, salsa legend Andy Montanez and ecologist Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera, who won a Goldman Environmental Prize this year for his campaign to establish a nature reserve in Puerto Rico’s Northeast Ecological Corridor.
Additionally, the parade is recognizing marriage equality in Puerto Rico, which was enacted last year and upheld in April, with a special honor given to LGBT and human rights advocate Pedro Julio Serrano, an adviser for New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
“This recognition highlights family unity through love and acceptance of LGBT Puerto Ricans,” Serrano said in a statement. “We are all Puerto Ricans.”