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Annual Brentwood parade to put Hispanic heritage on display

Attendees show off their patriotism during last year's

Attendees show off their patriotism during last year's Brentwood Puerto Rican Day Parade. Credit: Steve Pfost

Puerto Ricans and other Latinos will come together for the 52nd year to march down the streets of Brentwood and showcase their cultural pride on Sunday, organizers said.

As usual, the Puerto Rican and Hispanic Day Parade will feature floats representing the traditions of the various nations of Latin America, with live music and dancers performing as well as marching groups from Long Island communities.

The event is put together by Teatro Yerbabruja, a nonprofit behind local relief efforts for Puerto Rico last year, after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. The group is facing its own challenges as the lease is expiring early next year for the community arts center that it runs year-round in Central Islip.

Its board is pressed to find a new home, but organizer Margarita Espada said those difficulties would not stop the marquee event. More than 3,000 participants have signed up to march along the parade route and the parade attracts many more to watch from the sidelines of Brentwood’s Fifth Avenue every year.

“It’s a day to celebrate, now more than ever, who we are as a culture,” Espada said. “No matter what else is happening, it’s a day of unity where we celebrate the richness of our culture and our roots, our music, our dances, and more than anything, our identity.”

Among other groups represented by marchers will be Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Ecuadoreans and Colombians, organizers said. All will march “in solidarity with Puerto Rico” as the organization maintains ties with nonprofits there.

The parade is an opportunity, Espada said, to highlight “that there are many more youth in our communities who are doing positive things” than “the gang stigma” would suggest.

Marchers will be set to start at noon Sunday from the vicinity of Fifth Avenue and the Southern State Parkway in North Bay Shore, organizers said. The parade will go north for almost 3 miles to end at Brentwood’s Third Avenue.

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