Sunday, June 14, 2009

Puerto Rican Day Parade

The Puerto Rican Day Parade is quite an event! Plan ahead to get there early if you want to set up your folding chair, cooler and red, white and blue decorations. Or get there when it starts to stay mobile, walk around and take in the atmosphere. I was in midtown around 53rd street, and it was pretty busy here. I think next time I'll take the 6 up to 77th street and meander my way back down to mid town.
There were lots and lots of flags waving, and many people wearing full sized flags as capes. Everyone had noisemakers - whistles, maracas, cow bells and the like. Smart of them not to ruin their voices ;) People wore every item of clothing that said "Puerto Rico" on it, and I actually felt a little out of place wearing a teal blue top rather than the red, white and blue. Vendors sold flags (small and large) and beads, and hats and noisemakers. Also, lots of flavored ice and ice cream trolleys. One random lady was selling empenadas out of a shopping cart. I had heard about her on Mid Town lunch, and I really should have bought one, but I didn't.

The parade was filled with all kinds of policitos - there was a polictical conference for the last few days in the city, and the parade is kind of the culmination of the conference. Also, many many many police groups. The military bands were very good, but seemed out of place when next to the floats blasting fabulous salsa music (I love salsa music!). There were many more dancing groups than actual bands and it was really cool to see the participants doing the salsa down the street rather than marching :) Some dancers carried flags or ribbons to fly in the air - others had these huge golden wings (see pic above). Those wings probably signify something, but I have no idea what. There were a few performers on inline skates, and more beauty queens than I could count.
I had heard there were problems at the Puerto Rican Parade previously, and the number of police on duty made me think that was probably true. I saw about 5 different young guys being taken away in handcuffs, but I didn't see any altercations or problems. While I was there early, it did seem like a family affair with people coming in large intergenerational groups. I didn't stay the whole time - hopefully the day went without any significant problems. I'm looking forward to next year!