A wave of unity and pride flooded Fifth Avenue at the annual Hispanic Day Parade Sunday as participants wearing feathered, costumes of gold and silver shimmied to hip-shaking music.
The extravaganza of folkloric culture from the world’s Spanish-speaking nations was a welcome surprise in midtown Manhattan for out-of-towners. Despite the rain at the 53rd annual event, tourists watched hundreds of paradegoers from the tristate area representing the nations of their heritage.
“This is excellent — a complete surprise,” said Rocio Deleg, 40, of upstate Peekskill, who hails from Ecuador and was one of dozens from her church who visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a special Mass for the Virgen of Cisne de Loja, Ecuador.
“All these different dresses and all of them beautiful,” Deleg said. “This is a wonderful surprise.”
Maria Apaza, 45, of Mineola, came with her 7-year-old son Matthew to show him his Bolivian roots.
“This is his first time here and I was hoping he will see the culture and music of his parents,” said Apaza, who came to the United States 24 years ago.
The Apazas were not disappointed when they heard the delicate pan pipe music of Bolivia’s Andes Mountains. “I didn’t know there would be such a large representation,” Apaza said.
Dozens of women, young and old, in glittery derby hats and short tutu skirts of aqua green and silver swirled as they danced up Fifth Avenue.
Alongside them, male Bolivian dancers wore the folkloric red devil costume with pointy horns. The warriors of the nation’s Cochabamba region wore typical wooden clogs with large metal spurs that were used by their ancestors to stomp their enemies thousands of years ago.
They danced past St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where the flag of Spain flew alongside Old Glory.
Parade participants also represented the Spanish regions of Andalusia and Galicia, wearing the peasant farmer folkloric garb from the Middle Ages depicted in Goya’s famous paintings.
Luis Casal, a violinist who hails from Panama and lives in Astoria, Queens, said it was his first time at the parade.
“I love it. It brings back a lot of memories” said Casal, adding that parade participants “are so well organized and they do this with such joy. It’s really beautiful.”
For Wanda Guzman, who participated in the parade as a reigning queen representing Puerto Rico with a smile, the parade still was a solemn event.
“It’s a very sad day for us,” she said. “There are many out there that will be feeling the pain of their families still on the island. I hope my smile will raise their spirits and give hope that the island will rise again.”