Under a sunny summerlike sky, thousands of Hispanic Day parade revelers honored the world's Spanish-speaking nations on Fifth Avenue Sunday, waving flags and celebrating each other's folkloric music and brightly colored costumes.
"I am happy to be here on this beautiful day with my family celebrating all the Hispanic community and the roots we share -- the Spanish language," said Laura Ramiro, 54, of New Jersey, who hails from Uruguay.
"My husband is from Argentina," she said as the ancient Andean music of panpipes and drums soared. She waved her Uruguayan flag as her husband waved the blue and white flag of Argentina.
"I feel represented and part of a larger community today," said Ramiro's husband, Alberto, 47. "It makes me proud to celebrate this day. I love this parade."
Organizers of the 49th annual Hispanic Day Parade estimated that 10,000 people participated in marching bands, dance troupes or rode in hundreds of floats. An estimated 1 million people attended the parade from across the tri-state area.
Leading the parade was the NYPD mounted police unit, followed by Manhattan's Mother Cabrini High School Marching Band. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the NYPD marching band trailed representatives from the consulates of the Spanish-speaking world.
A troupe of Spanish flamenco dancers and a bagpipe band from Galicia, Spain, kicked off the music and dance celebration. Dancers and musicians in a fiery rainbow of colors -- red, yellow, blue, and green mixed with modern-day neon pink, purple and orange -- highlighted Latin America's Indian folkloric costume tradition.
"I can identify with all the Latin American countries," said construction worker Tony Gutierrez, 50, of Forest Hills, who was born in Peru. "Today brings back beautiful memories of my own country, but also the brotherhood of the Hispanic heritage."
"I always love a parade," said Sally Hamilton, 73, of Victoria, Canada. "I was raised in England. I remember the military parades during the war [World War II] and they always made me weepy," she said, marveling at the array of Bolivian dancers and the gaucho cowboy trousers from Argentina.
Juan Hilario, 19, of Wheaton, Md., who was born in Peru, was a member of the Bolivian Tinkus dance troupe. "I came out here to support my friend who is Bolivian; but I feel we share each other's culture."