A Weekend of Parades

The Dominican Day Parade in the Bronx (Photo by Victor Matos via El Diario)

The Dominican Day Parade in the Bronx (Photo by Victor Matos via El Diario)

[Three national parades – of the Dominican, Peruvian and Colombian communities – took place last weekend in the tri-state area. This story by José Acosta tells about the Dominican parade in the Bronx, at which Dominican officials and politicians defended the country against criticism over its policies that could lead to the expulsion of thousands of Dominico-Haitians.] 

In its 26th edition, the Bronx Dominican Day Parade had a slightly more patriotic tone than in previous years, as dozens of participants raised flags and signs reading “Dominicans, children of Duarte” and “Quisqueya: Free sovereign country.”

Mayor de Blasio was awaited with great expectation even though, last June, he said that the Dominican Republic’s immigration policies and the imminent deportation of undocumented foreigners ‒ most of them Haitian ‒ were “an immoral act; it is a racist act by the Dominican government.” The statement triggered criticism from politicians and elected officials here and on the island.

Many thought that the mayor would be booed as he arrived, but people continued to chant patriotic slogans, and de Blasio was able to cut the ribbon to inaugurate the event without any incidents. As he walked with the parade, he was seen running toward people who waved Dominican flags, greeting women with kisses and taking pictures with the crowd.

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Bronx resident Héctor Pérez said that, in spite of the mayor’s comments about the Dominican Republic, “people know that we are a welcoming and cheerful country.”

“The people who created merengue and bachata are a joyful people, and what the international community needs to do is help the Haitians so that joy and prosperity can reach that sister nation,” said Pérez.

The Dominican consul general in New York, Eduardo Selman, said that, this year, the Dominican Republic has been the target of “unfounded attacks due to its handling of its immigration laws. It is more important than ever to show our Dominican pride at this parade and that we are all united.”

Selman rode on a float alongside Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations Frank Cortorreal, and the Dominican consul in Brazil, Baltazar Figuereo.

“Through our Dominican pride we are telling the world that we have always been hospitable and consistent with all foreigners in the country, including Haitians,” said Selman.

Coincidentally, the parade was held on the day when Dominicans celebrate Father’s Day, and Council member Ydanis Rodríguez sent greetings.

“Dominicans continue to march with our heads held high, and we will point out on any stage that we are, first and foremost, cheerful, humble, honest and hardworking people who contribute to this great nation, where over a million Dominicans live,” said Rodríguez. “Also, that we have been grateful to the countries who have welcomed us but that we have also shown solidarity with the brothers and sisters who arrive in our country.”

Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. opposed the attacks on the Dominican community and said he was humbled to represent the 378,000 Dominicans who, according to the 2010 Census, live in his borough. “They represent the largest Dominican community outside of the island.”

“The Dominican community is hardworking, and they contribute to the growth of our borough,” said Díaz.

César Romero, president of the U.S. branch of the Instituto Duartiano, said that the attacks are “baseless” and that “the country needed to take the initiative to regularize immigrants, just like any other sovereign nation.”

Rosa Ayala, executive director of the Bronx Dominican Day Parade, said that, this year, the event is dedicated to the province of San Pedro de Macorís, and that José Hazin, dean of Universidad Central de Este and former senator of the province, was chosen as grand marshal.

Along Grand Concourse, from East Tremont to 167th Street, marched 42 floats and 135 sport, cultural, traditional and political groups.

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Peruvian llamas stole the show at the parade held in Passaic County (Photo by Cristina Loboguerrero via El Diario)

Peruvian llamas stole the show at the parade held in Passaic County. (Photo by Cristina Loboguerrero via El Diario)

[Another story by Cristina Loboguerrero tells about Sunday’s Peruvian parade in Paterson, New Jersey.]

After parade organizers and Paterson authorities solved their disagreement regarding clean-up and security fees required by the city, the Peruvian community took over the streets of three of the main municipalities in Passaic County early Sunday morning.

As is now traditional, participants waved the red-and-white flag to the rhythm of marineras as floats accompanied them with other songs.

“It is always good to have a day when tradition and nostalgia are present in our lives,” said Marita Vargas, a Peruvian resident of Passaic for 26 years. Like most people in attendance, she wore red and white.

The parade began in Passaic, marching through Main Street and bordering Clifton, and ended in Paterson – where a festival was held until late in the afternoon.

A gigantic flag presided over the parade, followed by two colorful llamas brought in from Maryland which caused a sensation among kids and adults.

This year, the event ‒ which celebrated its 29th edition ‒ was dedicated to Fred Varas, one of its founders, who passed away recently. Emmanuel Piqueras, a Peruvian chef well-known in New York, was grand marshal.

The Peruvian Parade is the first one held in Paterson after a new ordinance imposing fees on this type of event took effect on July 1. While the city will pay for 80 percent of the nearly $94,000 cost ‒ $72,000 to pay for police presence and $21,000 for clean-up ‒ organizers had to chip in $19,000.

The organizers of the Peruvian Parade opposed the payment of the fees arguing that they were established too late in their planning process for them to be able to raise the money. Council member Andre Sayegh contributed $12,000 from his civic association to help the parade.

“It is an honor to be able to contribute to the Peruvian Parade, one of the largest in the state and even the country, in my opinion. Peruvians are a great symbol of pride, which is why they can count on my continued support,” said the elected official.

Paterson mayor Joe Torres, who participated in the parade, spoke about the event’s significance. “Walking with Peruvians today is very meaningful,” he said.

Fermín López, who has lived in Paterson for 34 years, was moved. “It is beautiful to see so many compatriots together under one flag.”

At the Colombian Day Parade in Queens (Photo by Andrea González-Ramírez via El Diario)

At the Colombian Day Parade in Queens (Photo by Andrea González-Ramírez via El Diario)

[Finally, Andrea González-Ramírez wrote about Sunday’s Colombian parade in Queens.]

Hundreds of Colombians gathered to celebrate the 15th edition of the Colombian Day Parade, painting Queens’ Northern Boulevard yellow, blue and red.

Under the scorching midday sun, the event kicked off a few minutes late due to the large number of spectators who crammed in front of one of the floats to see Miss Universe 2015 Paulina Vega.

The beauty queen, born in Barranquilla, was one of the honorees of the parade alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was the international grand marshal. Media personalities in attendance included Adriana Vargas and Claudia Ospina ‒ from TV network Univisión 41 and the godmothers of the parade ‒ Fanny García and Alex Sensation, among others.

The festive atmosphere could be felt all through the avenue between 60th and 87th streets, where elected officials, artists, community organizations and others marched, cheered on by spectators of all ages.

“We are here to teach our child about Colombian traditions,” said Beatriz Gutiérrez referring to her young son Michael, who smiled as he waved a small flag, sitting on his grandfather’s shoulders.

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