The colors of the Puerto Rican flag stand among revelers...

The colors of the Puerto Rican flag stand among revelers as they line the route of the National Puerto Rican Day parade on New York's Fifth Avenue. The parade has been an annual event in New York since 1958 and has grown to be one of the city's largest. (June 10, 2012) Credit: AP

Tens of thousands of parade goers, many waving flags or wearing them, jammed Fifth Avenue Sunday for one of the biggest street parties of the year -- the annual Manhattan procession honoring Puerto Rico.

"Everyone has strong pride. It's an important tradition," said Mayvette Irizarry, 18, of the Bronx, who's been coming to the parade each year of her life. "We may not know each other but we come together as a family."

This year's theme was higher education, and Felix Matos Rodriguez, president of Hostos Community College, was chosen to represent it because of the large number of Puerto Rican and other Latino students at the school. The college had its own float, among the dozens on display; also in the parade were marching bands and open convertibles carrying gowned beauty pageant contestants.

NYPD officials, who did not give an estimate on attendance, said there were no arrests. Parade organizers said more than 80,000 people attended the event.

Happy Puerto Ricans, fellow New Yorkers and curious tourists streamed up and down the parade route along the broad avenue in balmy sunlight. Along Central Park, the crowd looked like one long block party, with lawn chairs, dancing and socializing among the many parade goers who return every year.

"You always bump into people," said Jose Ortiz, 57, an appliance technician from Far Rockaway. "Every Puerto Rican in the city comes to these and even more fly in from Puerto Rico."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) were among politicians attending, along with parade regular Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is Puerto Rican and grew up in the Bronx.

Giants receiver Victor Cruz, performers John Leguizamo and Wyclef Jean, and Fox News anchor Geraldo Rivera participated as well. The presence of so many prominent people helps make it "the best parade in New York," Ortiz said.

NAACP president Benjamin Jealous also appeared, wearing a hoodie to protest both the slaying of Trayvon Martin in Florida and the NYPD's controversial "stop and frisk" program.

Irizarry said she was cheered that so many Puerto Ricans, including celebrities, make the effort to be in the parade. "They're really here and they really hear," she said. "They want to send the message that we're not alone."

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Trump documents case dismissed ... Play places for kids ... Prime Day is coming ... Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Trump documents case dismissed ... Play places for kids ... Prime Day is coming ... Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

Latest Videos

YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED

FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.