Sisvelyn Peralta, a pageant queen in Sunday's Ecuadorean pride parade in Queens, was born and raised in the United States but she feels a deep connection to her parents' homeland.
"I know that my roots are in Ecuador," Peralta, 14, of Corona, said at the Jackson Heights parade celebrating the South American country's independence from Spain.
Older generations faced discrimination so that hers could have a better life, she said. "Especially Latinos, immigrants had a hard time here and knowing everyone can come together one day is a big deal."
Peralta's family is among the 100,000 Ecuadoreans living in New York City. The growing community was honored with folk dancers in vibrantly colored skirts, performers in elaborate animal-themed masks and trumpet and guitar players. Thousands of revelers along Northern Boulevard donned red, yellow and blue soccer jerseys and waved Ecuador's flag.
"Today is an example of the strength and the vibrancy of this extraordinary community," said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who marched as a special guest and grasped hands with celebrants yelling "alcalde!" -- Spanish for mayor -- at him. Ecuadorean New Yorkers are "part of what is making this city stronger every day," he said.
State Assemb. Francisco Moya (D-Queens), the first Ecuadorean-American elected to public office in the United States, said measures such as municipal IDs for residents regardless of immigration status benefits the community.
"Every year it gets bigger and bigger," he said of the parade. "It's just a great cultural experience for people who are not Ecuadorean to come here today, be Ecuadorean, try the food, listen to the music and really see a new culture that's emerging."