Dominican Day Parade draws thousands in Manhattan

Participants engage the crowd as they dance during Participants engage the crowd as they dance during the Dominican Day Parade in Manhattan on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Craig Ruttle

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Lenny Reyna of Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood said he considers himself "Dominican York," because he was born in New York City to Dominican parents.

He moved to the Caribbean nation and lived there for eight years before returning, and "I learned to love that country."

At the Dominican Day parade in Manhattan Sunday, Reyna, 40, showed off a T-shirt with the letters "DRNY." He wore glasses that lit up in the Dominican Republic flag's colors: blue, red and white.

"The people, they're loving people. We've got good hearts, we always help, we came here to work, we enjoy it here," Reyna said of Dominicans. He joked that the city's Puerto Rican community celebrates its culture with a parade on Fifth Avenue, and the Dominicans have Sixth Avenue. "Today's our day," he said.

Tens of thousands of revelers turned out for the 33rd annual march, which took over midtown Manhattan in a flurry of waving flags, blaring air horns and booming bachata and merengue music.

Dominican singer Henry Santos served as godfather, or el padrino, of the parade.

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About 600,000 Dominicans call New York City home.

"It's a great day to know that as Dominicans, we have made so many major contributions to our great city," said City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), one of four Dominican-Americans on the 51-member council.

The first immigrant settler in Manhattan in 1613 was of Dominican descent, and the Dominican community has worked closely with others over the centuries to build the city, Rodriguez said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who also marched in the parade, lauded the city for its "beautiful diversity," calling the Dominican and Latino community a big part of the city and state.

"It's been growing and growing. I remember when this parade started, there were just a few people out here," he said.

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"Que viva la Republica Dominicana," state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan), who was born in the Dominican Republic, said alongside Cuomo.

Public Advocate Letitia James said Sunday: "Today is a day of pride, and it's an honor and a privilege to be an honorary Dominican today."

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