Hispanic Day Parade 2016: Alicia Machado to grand marshal and more

Hispanic Day Parade 2016 participants will walk down Fifth Avenue on Oct. 9.
Hispanic Day Parade 2016 participants will walk down Fifth Avenue on Oct. 9. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Daniel Zuchnik

Hispanic pride will be on display this Sunday, when the 52nd annual Hispanic Day Parade marches up Fifth Avenue.

The parade celebrates the solidarity of New York City’s Hispanic population, which totals nearly 2.5 million, more than any other city in the United States.

Upward of 1 million spectators are expected to attend the cultural celebration, which includes representation from Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America, as well as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Spain.

The European country in particular plans to have a larger presence than usual at this year’s parade to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish writer who authored “Don Quixote,” considered to be the first modern novel.

“Everybody in school in all these countries studied Cervantes and ‘Don Quixote’ in the same way,” said Pepe Navajas, coordinator of the parade’s Spanish delegation for La Nacional–Spanish Benevolent Society. “When you learn Spanish writing, everything is ‘Don Quixote.’ It’s the most important book in the Spanish culture.”

La Nacional, which was started in 1868 in what was once Manhattan’s “Little Spain,” helped found the parade more than 50 years ago, too. It will be one of more than 50 groups participating in Sunday’s affair and will lead the 21 participating countries, territories and nations up Fifth Avenue.

To mark the anniversary, there will be Andy Warhol-esque paintings of Cervantes by Spanish artist Curro Leyton carried by marchers.

“It’s the biggest showcase that we have on Fifth Avenue,” said La Nacional’s Michelle Miron, who is queen of the Spanish delegation. “They’re celebrating Cervantes’ death around the world, we wanted to bring it to the parade.”

The Spanish delegation is also planning to have flamenco dancers, as well as a tuna — a group of musicians who perform serenades while dressed in 13th-century garb. La Nacional is bringing more than 70 performers from Spain who will be singing and playing mandolins, lutes and tambourines.

“It’s going to be a sight,” Miron said of the tuna.

More than 4,000 people are expected to march in the parade, which will feature floats, live music, dance, traditional dress and more.

The parade falls near the end of National Hispanic Heritage Month, an annual celebration that runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

Headline-making grand marshal

The Hispanic Parade has an unexpectedly timely grand marshal.

Alicia Machado, who won the Miss Universe pageant in 1996, will lead this year’s parade down Fifth Avenue.

The Venezuelan-born actress found renewed fame recently after Hillary Clinton mentioned her by name at the first presidential debate earlier this month.

“It’s funny,” said Edgardo Alonso, general coordinator for the Hispanic Parade Committee, which locked down Machado as the grand marshal before the debate. “We’ve been trying to get her for a couple of years. A lot of Spanish-speaking people like her acting.”

Since winning the Miss Universe title, Machado has starred in several telenovelas and reality shows. After making headlines in the debate, she’s even been rumored to join the “Dancing with the Stars” cast.

More pride on parade

The Hispanic Parade isn’t the only street festival celebrating Hispanic culture in New York City this month. Here are others planned:

  • Panamanian Pre-Independence Day Parade and Street Fair: Oct. 8, 10:30 a.m., on Franklin Avenue from Bergen to President streets and ending with a street fair on Classon Avenue between Union Street and Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights
  • Bolivian Parade: Oct. 16, noon, on 37th Avenue from 69th to 86th streets in Jackson Heights


The Hispanic Parade is Oct. 9 from noon-5 p.m. on Fifth Avenue from 44th to 68th streets.

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