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Puerto Ricans Celebrate Heritage, Pride Parades To Step Off In Jersey Cities
Puerto Ricans Celebrate Heritage
BY MAHVISH KHAN
July 28, 2003
PROUD COLORS: Iris Gonzalez shows off her Puerto Rican pride during 'Fiesta Fort Lauderdale' Sunday at Riverwalk.
Carmen Carambot was just 11 years old when her family left Bayamón, Puerto Rico.
In her memory, growing distant over time, are colorful dresses that she and her two sisters wore, street parades and their house near the market.
Uprooted and moved to New York, she struggled in school to learn English and longed for familiarity.
Fort Lauderdale's Riverwalk became memory lane Sunday for Carambot, now 63, who was delighted to introduce her own children to ''Fiesta! Fort Lauderdale,'' marking the 51st anniversary of Puerto Rico's constitution.
''This reminds me of Puerto Rico. This is our food. This is our music,'' the North Miami resident said. ``It was hard for me -- coming to this country. There weren't many people like me. Everyone was Jewish or Italian. This event makes me feel like I am in Puerto Rico all over again.''
She is one of hundreds of thousands who emigrated from Puerto Rico in the 1940s and 1950s. People of Puerto Rican descent form the largest Hispanic group in Broward County.
Riverwalk was packed -- security guards using mechanical counters logged almost 1,000 people an hour headed there.
Salsa music blasted. Spectators danced to a live band. Along the river, boats docked and the crowd kept growing.
A band called Grupo Koytre played traditional Puerto Rican plena music.
''This is a great ambience,'' said Rick Vernon, 42, of Fort Lauderdale, watching the crowd. He sat barefoot under a restaurant umbrella with friends.
``The beer is cheap, too, and I like learning about other cultures.''
Event organizer Elaine Vásquez, who helps organize similar events celebrating different Hispanic cultures on the fourth Sunday of every month, says besides celebrating culture, she hopes such events will help develop local minority businesses and facilitate a bridge among South Florida's ethnic groups.
''This is an attempt to bridge multiple cultures,'' she said.
Puerto Rican Pride
By Peter Bernard
July 28, 2003
As Puerto Rican artist Obed Gómez sat in the shade selling his paintings at Las Olas Riverfront on Sunday, he described how the rich culture and history of his island home speak through his vibrantly colored work.
"It's a diverse island, and my art has diverse themes," said Gómez, who moved to Orlando from Puerto Rico with his wife and manager, Sarah Gómez, in 1995.
"Motherhood, the sugar cane harvest, Puerto Rican folk dance and music. ... I love that I can sell my work to people of all races, from all over the world, and they can see my roots."
About 2,500 people passed through the Riverfront for Sunday's Fiesta! Fort Lauderdale monthly jazz brunch, an event that celebrated Friday's 51st Constitution Day, when the island became a U.S. commonwealth and adopted its own Constitution in 1952, according to event organizer Elizabeth Saldaña-Kobel.
"Today is a day to celebrate the richness and diversity of Puerto Rican and other Hispanic cultures," Saldaña-Kobel said. "We lined up some authentic entertainment today."
"This is a fantastic day for me," said Pompano Beach resident Michael Carriegos, whose family is Puerto Rican and Cuban. "The music, the food, it just reminds me of home. It makes me want to dance."
Puerto Rican Parades To Step Off In Jersey Cities
July 27, 2003
"OUR GOAL is not only to have a parade, but also to continuously educate our community on the history, heritage, culture and arts of Puerto Rico and the entire Latino community," says Yvette Soto, president of the Atlantic County Puerto Rican Parade, which takes place on the Atlantic City Boardwalk on Aug. 10.
Her sentiments are echoed by other Puerto Rican organizations throughout New Jersey that sponsor these late summer festivals and parades to raise funds for their many projects, which include aid for students from pre- school through college, annual college scholarships, prenatal care, English classes, and health and housing services.
In the next few weeks, parades and street festivals are being held in Jersey City, Trenton and New Brunswick, as well as Atlantic City, with an all-state parade scheduled for Newark in September.
Atlantic City's parade on Aug. 10 starts at 1 p.m. on Albany Avenue, continuing along the Boardwalk to New Jersey Avenue. After the parade, a Latin music festival takes place at New Jersey Avenue featuring bands and entertainers, including Elvis Crespo, Kevin Ceballo and Miah. There is a $5 charge to enter the festival area. There will be lots of food, dancing and other attractions. Soto can be reached at (609) 347-0770.
Jersey City's 42nd annual Puerto Rican Parade, one of the oldest in the state, takes place Aug. 17 beginning at 1 p.m. at Lincoln Park and Kennedy Boulevard. It will proceed along Montgomery Street to Grove Street and Exchange Place. At Exchange Place, a festival will be in place, starting at noon and continuing to 11 p.m., featuring many bands, food, games and other activities. The Jersey City festivities first get under way Aug. 12 with a free performance by the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater of New York. The company will present a 400-year-old comedy, "Los Melindres (Caprices) de Belisa," by Lope de Vega at 6 p.m. at Roberto Clemente Field, Manila Avenue and Sixth Street. Contact is Wanda Rodriguez, (201)-386-0422, president of the Puerto Rican Heritage Festival and Parade Committee.
The Trenton Puerto Rican Parade Committee has four days of activities on tap, beginning Thursday and ending with the big parade Aug. 4. The parade, now in its 26th year, originates at Trenton High School at 1 p.m. and marches to City Hall, near the site of a street fair that will get under way at 3 p.m. on Cass Street off Route 1-29. The fair offers rides, Puerto Rican food, live music and dancing and entertainment each night, according to committee president Idamis Margicin. Festival times are 6-10 p.m. on Thursday, 6-11 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday, and 3-11 p.m. on Sunday. Margicin can be reached at (609) 209-5009.
Meanwhile, the Puerto Rican Action Board of New Brunswick is preparing the city's 25th annual Hispanic Riverfront Festival at Boyd Park, off Route 18 North along the Raritan River. More than 20,000 people attended last year. Popular singers Nino Segara and Adalberto Santiage will be coming from Puerto Rico, and the festival will feature several other bands and dance groups from Mexico, New York and New Jersey offering merengue, folkloric and salsa music. The festival kicks off at 5 p.m. each day, and the entertainment takes place at 7 p.m. each evening. Ethnic food, amusement rides and other festival activities will be offered. The board can be reached at (732) 828-4510.
Coming up on Sept. 21 is the annual Puerto Rican Statewide Parade in Newark. The parade begins at Lincoln Park, goes through downtown Broad Street, followed by a festival at Branch Brook Park. Details are still in the planning stage. Call (973) 481-3233.