Puerto Rican Day Parade, led by Ricky Martin, is anchored by breaking barriers

This year's 62nd annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade marks the second since Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
This year’s 62nd annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade marks the second since Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Photo Credit: Li Yakira Cohen

When the 62nd annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade marches up Fifth Avenue on Sunday, attendees can expect to see some familiar faces in the crowd.

This year’s parade will honor singer, actor and philanthropist Ricky Martin as Grand Marshal, in part for the work of his eponymous nonprofit, the Ricky Martin Foundation, which aims to combat human trafficking.

Among the other honorees are singer-songwriter La India, known as “La Princesa de la Salsa,” musician and "Feliz Navidad" songwriter José Feliciano, golfer Chi-Chi Rodríguez — the first Puerto Rican inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame — champion boxer and MMA fighter Amanda Serrano and transgender actress Mj Rodriguez, who stars in the FX series “Pose.”

“The way that this lineup of honorees has played out, we’re talking about several individuals that not only are at the top of their game, but they’ve had to overcome either cultural or gender barriers in order to get there,” said Louis Maldonado, chair of the parade’s board.

Expect plenty of "bomba" at this year's festivities.
Expect plenty of "bomba" at this year’s festivities. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

The parade will also pay posthumous tribute to transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, a leader of the Stonewall uprising, which helped launch the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement.

Last year’s parade — the first one after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico — proved to be both celebratory and somber, with many attendees paying tribute to loved ones lost during and after the storm. Some parade-goers held signs emblazoned with the estimated death toll at the time, while others chanted “shame” as they passed by Trump Tower to express outrage over the federal government’s response to the disaster.

This year’s parade will provide another chance to send a message to the federal government, as well as the Democratic candidates vying for their party’s nomination, that Puerto Rico “needs to be part of the conversation,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said.

But the festivities will also aim to look forward, with a focus on economic development on the island, Maldonado noted.

“A lot has been done since the hurricane hit in late 2017,” he said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done … but it is on its way to recovery, and there’s a lot to be thankful for.”

Young Puerto Ricans show their island pride at last year's parade.
Young Puerto Ricans show their island pride at last year’s parade. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

In addition to honoring notable members of the Puerto Rican community, the parade pays tribute to a different municipality in Puerto Rico each year, Maldonado said.

This year, the focus will be on Loíza, a historically Afro-Puerto Rican community not far from San Juan that is celebrating its tricentennial.

Loíza has undergone an “amazing” transformation since it was hit by the hurricane, Maldonado said. Parade-goers can expect to see a lot of “bomba” — a traditional Afro-Puerto Rican dance and music genre that is "big” in Loíza, he added.

“Dance, music, food, you name it, Loíza has contributed,” Maldonado said.

Houston, which has around 25,000 Puerto Rican residents — the state’s largest Puerto Rican community — will be this year’s “Honored Stateside Community” at the parade.

WHERE: Fifth Avenue, between East 43rd and East 79th streets

WHEN: Sunday, June 9, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

OTHER EVENTS: The parade’s Annual Gala and Banquet will take place on Friday, June 7, from 6 . to 11 p.m. Tickets are available online.