SLIDESHOW: Sunset Park Puerto Rican Day parade draws thousands

The sound of pride: Many floats blasted music as they cruised down Fifth Avenue.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

This party just keeps getting bigger!

The Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival in Sunset Park on June 12 was a resounding success, with 10,000 spectators lined up along Fifth Avenue to celebrate the island’s heritage. It was the second official neighborhood parade in 20 years — organizers finally got marching permits last year after a two-decade dry spell — and one local reveler said it was noticeably bigger and better than last time around.“It was much more packed this year than last year, it was more official, and it’s finally getting more recognition alongside the Manhattan parade — it was really great for everyone,” said Destiny Acho, who came with her mother, sister, and niece from Dyker Heights.

Two-dozen drummers with the Afro-Puerto Rican traditional percussion group Alma Moyó led the parade down Fifth Avenue. Their pounding traditional bomba y plena tunes set an energetic tone for rest of the parade and had crowds bursting with energy, an organizer said.

“They automatically draw people out — when they play these rhythms, the community responds, it brings people together,” said Dennis Flores, whose social-justice group El Grito de Sunset Park organized the parade. “They heard themselves in it — it amped them up.”Scores of classic cars — including the hydraulic suspension-equipped low-riders — followed them, along with floats and bands. The National Latino Officers Association of America sent a contingent, which Flores said was important for driving home the march’s message of reconciliation and dialogue between cops and community.

Police and locals clashed during unofficial pride parades in years’ past, which partly fueled El Grito’s push to go mainstream, Flores said.

Officers did not make a single arrest or issue one summons at either this year’s or last year’s parade, according to police.

Organizers dedicated the procession to Yvonne Cruz, a local who recently died of cancer, and the named Sunset Park native and actor J.W. Cortes the honorary head patron. Borough President Adams honored Flores’s group with a proclamation and Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Sunset Park) attended.

And Cortes, who has a recurring role on television’s “Gotham,” thoroughly enjoyed himself, he tweeted.

The parade ended with hundreds of revelers dancing to salsa, boogaloo, and Latin jazz of the Abrazos Orchestra during an after-party in the neighborhood’s namesake green space.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.

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