The annual Puerto Rican Day parade returned to full strength Sunday after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus, as thousands of flag-waving spectators turned Fifth Avenue into a sea of red, white and blue.
The streets were filled of love for the island, with beating bongos, scratching güiros, and shaking maracas serving as the soundtrack for the high-spirited affair.
“We are out here really enjoying after two years of not being able to march,” Mayor Eric Adams said. “We are just enjoying this great spirit and energy of the Puerto Rican community. The Puerto Rican community has played a major role in the building of this city and this is our way of celebrating that energy and spirit. Viva Puerto Rico! Wepa!”
Although the inclement weather drew an overcast over the event, it did not dampen spirits for revelers, instead attendees said it reminded them of the tropical island’s sporadic rainfall.
“I love this community. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow will stop us from marching in tribute to our great Puerto Rican community in New York. Viva Puerto Rico! Que viva! It could be hailing. It could be raining cats and dogs. We would still be here because we love this community so much,” Senator Chuck Schumer said, waving the Puerto Rican flag.
In addition to the red, white, and blue Puerto Rican colors, many also flew the black and white version of the flag, symbolizing independence, resistance, civil disobedience, and grief.
One marcher began to cry and scream as she exclaimed, “Puerto Rico is back baby! We’re back. I love my country! We gotta protect Puerto Rico!”
Puerto Ricans pride themselves on their culture and identity, especially during continued debates regarding the commonwealth’s status under the United States.
Elected officials such as Congress Member Nydia Velázquez assured spectators that the parade symbolizes the strength of the Puerto Rican people and the importance of receiving its fair share in support from the United States.
“The political statement that we are making is that Puerto Rico, and the Puerto Rican community is here watching for Puerto Rico to get its fair share for federal assistance and that we will be there for them all the way,” Velázquez said.
The 65th annual parade set off from 44th Street and Fifth Avenue and concluded on 79th Street. This year’s parade honored Cidra, Puerto Rico–also known as the Town of Eternal Spring.