Thousands Attend One Of City’s Largest Parades
Jamie Schram and Sam Gustin, WNBC.com (NY), Jun. 13
NEW YORK — Tens of thousands of people lined Fifth Avenue in a sea of red, white and blue Sunday to celebrate all things Puerto Rican in one of the city’s biggest, loudest and most raucous parades.
On a day when Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared everyone Puerto Rican “by mayoral order,” thousands thronged the streets, trying to catch a glimpse of passing celebrities and dancing to the heavily amplified floats blasting both salsa and merengue music.
“This is our family, so we’ve come to be with our family,” said Michael Rivera, 33, who traveled with his wife and two children from Lawrence, Mass. to the parade. “We don’t have so much of this in Lawrence so I brought my family down to see some of their culture.”
That type of ethnic pride was on wide display as parade-goers waved the island’s flag, wore shirts emblazoned in its colors, and blew whistles as the parade rolled by.
“I’m proud to be Puerto Rican,” said Melanie Mendez, 14, of East Meadow on Long Island, who was coming to the parade for the first time. “This is time to come out and represent your culture.”
For Richard Rodriguez, 66, who has come to the parade “20 or so times” over the years, the sentiment was the same, although perhaps slightly more jaded.
“I came because I’m Puerto Rican. That kind of makes it like an obligation, doesn’t it?” he said. “No, seriously, I just like to see so many Puerto Ricans together and having a good time.”
Several celebrities, like rappers Jay-Z and Fat Joe, joined the festivities, drawing much of the attention, but the parade also featured a who’s who of local politicians.
“This is probably one of the most fun parades,” Bloomberg said, sporting a gray traditional guayabera shirt. “It’s definitely one of its most joyous and well attended.”
Amid all the joy, Bloomberg saved some ire for building owners along the wealthy stretches of Fifth Avenue at the northern end of the parade route who in previous years have boarded up their building’s ground floor windows and wrapped their flower planters in fencing.
“It’s a disgrace,” he said when asked about the practice by reporters. “I don’t think it sends the right message and I don’t think it’s needed.”
The parade, which has been an annual event in New York since 1958, has grown to be one of the city’s largest. Although it was impossible to estimate this year’s crowd, hundreds of thousand have attended in recent years. New York City has nearly 800,000 Puerto Ricans.
20 Paradegoers Busted In Rampage
N. Y. Post. Jun. 14
A gang of 20 Puerto Rican Day paradegoers trashed and robbed an Upper East Side pizzeria, cops said.
Five men, all from Mount Vernon, were charged with robbery; 15 were hit with disorderly conduct.
Police said the mob entered Famous Original Ray’s Pizza on Lexington Avenue near 88th Street after the parade ended, upended an ice-cream freezer and hit a worker with a bottle.
The thugs fled, but were arrested at 93rd Street.
In an unrelated incident, a 15-year-old girl told cops that a man groped her while she was dancing during the parade. Four years ago, dozens of women were groped in a melee after the parade.