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Parade unites Huntington’s Hispanic community

Five-year-old Joel Ramirez, a member of the Iglesia

Five-year-old Joel Ramirez, a member of the Iglesia Luz de Salvacion, waves during the Christian Day Parade on New York Avenue in Huntington Station. (Aug. 11, 2012) Credit: Alexi Knock

Music woke up the neighborhood and was heard for 15 blocks down New York Avenue on Saturday morning as several Hispanic evangelical congregations joined together for the Christian Day Parade in Huntington Station.

“Our community is really struggling right now and this music is part of our culture and how we show our faith,” said Pilar Moya-Mancera, of Huntington. “We have to lift our spirits and move on no matter the circumstances.”

The Iglesia Luz de Salvación of Huntington Station and the Porter-Trejo Action Network, a nonprofit that works to empower minority communities, organized the second Christian Day Parade with more than 500 participants from four churches.

“This is important not only for our church but for the community. We’re trying to create unity,” said Guillermo Pérez, president of the Porter-Trejo Action Network. “We’re telling the community, the police and town hall that the church is here to help them.”

The parade made its way down New York Avenue from 15th Street to Church Street and included floats, music and motorcyclists.

“Seeing everyone here united is awesome,” said Maria Solorzano, 20, of Huntington.
“We’re trying to show the people how close we are. You don’t have to be any kind of religion to try and help our neighborhood.”

Members of four churches -- Iglesia Luz de Salvación, Iglesia Segunda Luz de Salvación, Iglesia de Evangelizacion Misionera and Iglesia Casa de Oracion -- raised money from events throughout the year to put together the parade. The goal of the parade was to raise awareness of the churches in Huntington Station, Solorzano said.

Another purpose of the parade was to unite the Hispanic people in the area, said the Rev. Erick Salgado, of Huntington.

“As a Hispanic community, we have to make sure we stay active,” Salgado said. “A lot of Hispanic people in this town are unaware of how the church can help them. Even if you aren’t Spanish our doors are open for everybody.”

Solorzano said the parade made her feel very connected to her heritage.

“Just because we’re here in America doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten where we came from,” she said.

Parade participants agreed the No. 1 goal was to reach out and help.

People walked along New York Avenue to watch the hundreds marching in the parade.

“Due to the language barrier a lot of us don’t have access to high-paying jobs,”  Moya-Mancera said. “But faith and events like this can move mountains.”

Above: Joel Ramirez, 5, a member of the Iglesia Luz de Salvacion, waves a flag during the Christian Day Parade on New York Avenue in Huntington Station. (Aug. 11, 2012)

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