Thousands of people marched with pride, showing off their heritage and staking claim to their native land Sunday morning at the Portugal Day Parade in Mineola.
“I’m very proud of my heritage and wanted to participate with everyone else,” said parade marcher Isabel Gomes, 46, of Albertson. “As more generations are being born here, we definitely want to make them aware of our heritage and keep that pride alive. It’s a nice way to show New York State what we’re all about.”
Organizer Gabriel Marques said the event was in part to recognize Portugal Day, celebrated around the world every June 10.
“We’re celebrating Portugal Day for all the immigrants who left Portugal though the years and settled in different countries,” Marques said.
He said in recent years many Portugal descendants living in New York State grown apart and have been divided as they have spread from Manhattan to Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey. But the groups are now united, partly because of the parade, he added.
Located in southwest Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal has a population of more than 10 million.
The country is known for exporting clothing, shoes, machinery and chemicals. Its president is Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
Disc jockeys kept the music going at the parade, bringing a festive feeling over the crowd as it wore on. Participants from as far as New Jersey were on hand.
Organizers said more than 2,500 marchers participated. Another estimated 10,000 supporters lined Jericho Turnpike near Chaminade High School to watch the event unfold.
Peyton Singh, 23, of Brooklyn, said she wanted to watch people dance and eat spicy food.
“It’s always important to celebrate culture and where you’re from,” she said.
Some marches paraded around in traditional folklore outfits, cheered, screamed and danced.
But Ronkonkoma resident Kenneth Galvo rode his mini-motor bike in the parade.
“I wanted to be different and celebrate the country,” he said.
Jersey City resident Victor Faria, 28, who is Portuguese, stumbled into the parade by chance Sunday.
“We’re a proud people,” he said, standing along Jericho Turnpike as marchers made their way in his direction.