Hundreds of Puerto Rican and other Latino parade goers on Sunday lined a nearly 3-mile stretch from North Bay Shore to Brentwood in a colorful display of unity and cultural pride.
The 52nd annual Puerto Rican and Hispanic Day Parade, organized by the nonprofit by Teatro Yerbabruja, featured thousands of participants from dance groups to local emergency responders, school marching bands to floats representing Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Ecuadorans and Colombians.
“It’s to show everyone that we can all come together as a community and get along,” said Monica Boney, 41, of Bay Shore.
Boney grew up in the community and went to the parade every year, and now she shares it with her two daughters. “It’s just to show the kids the different cultures, the music is the best, and the food,” she said.
Myrka Argueta, 17, wearing her “Miss Brentwood” sash and crown, stood atop one of the floats, representing Miss Latina Long Island/Tristate.
“I’m able to represent the youth, as well as the Latino community here and just show them what the good side of Brentwood is,” said Argueta who is Dominican, Puerto Rican and Salvadoran. “It makes me really happy and a little emotional, because we all still come together and do something big.”
This year’s event was especially meaningful after the devastation Hurricane Maria caused in Puerto Rico in September, said Daniel Moran, 49, of the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn.
“We just want to celebrate and show the people that it’s life after that and come together on Long Island and make things a little easier for people that are suffering here as well as in Puerto Rico,” said Moran, who moved to the United States from Puerto Rico when he was 10. “This will bring a nice smile to a lot of people.”
Glorisbel Roman, 35, of Valley Stream, said she hopes the event can “transcend into some movement, some political movement, grass roots movement, fundraising, to help the Island itself.”
Roman, who is half-Puerto Rican and half-Dominican, and a volunteer for the Latina Moms of Long Island group, brought her daughters Talia, 2, and Sierra, 8, to participate in the parade and learn about their cultural heritage.
“I know that it forms a huge part of why I am the way that I am, the morals, down to religion, the way that I celebrate, the food that I make. I want my daughters to understand where we come from, why we do things a certain way, so that they can then have that as a foundation,” she said.
And in appreciating their own culture and differences, Roman said, hopefully they are “able to appreciate other cultures and their differences as well, and respect them the same as we want ours respected. ”