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New York Daily News
Puerto Rican Spirit On Parade
August 5, 2002
Jubilant crowds danced to the beat of salsa, waved Puerto Rican flags and shouted, "Viva Puerto Rico!" yesterday as the Bronx held its annual Puerto Rican Day Parade.
"It's truly a parade to celebrate the diversity of the Puerto Rican spirit and the Puerto Rican people," said Francisco Gonzalez, a parade organizer.
Revelers lined the 23-block route along the Grand Concourse from E. Tremont Ave. north to Bedford Park Blvd. and enjoyed live performances by salsa bands riding on many of the 26 colorful floats in the parade.
Paradegoers who worked up an appetite dancing had their pick of arroz con gandules, a traditional rice dish with pigeon peas, pernil - roast pork - and bacalaitos, a fried fish dish, among other fragrant offerings from food stands.
The parade culminated in a festive outdoor concert in Harris Park on Bedford Park Blvd., where salseros such as Kevin Ceballo, Willie Amadeo, Luis Rosario and his band, and Anthony Rodriguez kept the party going into the evening.
Although salsa is the most popular type of Puerto Rican music, there also were traditional Puerto Rican musicians playing bomba and plena - a combination of dance rhythms and call-and-response songs with Spanish and Afro-Caribbean roots.
The parade was the finale of Puerto Rican Heritage Week in the Bronx - which included an art, music and food festival - and the outdoor debut of a new musical play by Pregones, a local Puerto Rican theater company.
Victims of the World Trade Center attack were remembered in a solemn ceremony before the parade started. Organizers said the parade was dedicated to the "dignity of the human spirit" evident in the people lost on Sept. 11, from the firefighters to restaurant workers to survivors.
The Puerto Rican community is the largest single ethnic group in the Bronx, with nearly 320,000 making their home in the borough. The Bronx boasts the largest Puerto Rican community in the world outside of Puerto Rico.
"That makes me very proud as a Puerto Rican," said Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrin, who served as the parade's padrino, or godfather.
Bedecked in glittering crowns, 40 beauty queens, with titles such as Miss Teen Queen of the Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade, waved and smiled to the crowds.
Luz Reyes-Machuca, chairwoman of the parade, said many of the beauty contest winners were born in the United States and are learning about their heritage so they can share it with others.
"It means pride," she said. "It means culture. It means educating the people about our culture and our status here in New York and in the Bronx."