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On Saturday, June 11, under a gray sky that was threatening rain, hundreds gathered outside the Moore Street Market/La Marqueta (110 Moore Street) in a pre-celebration of the 65th National Puerto Rico Day Parade, to mark its return after two years of silence.
This beautiful party is made possible thanks to NYC Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez (34th District), New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC/EDC), NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull, Graham Avenue BID, and Boricua College.
Carmelo Feliciano, master of ceremonies, introduced the New York Combo Salsa Band. They play “In My Old San Juan” and they air fills with sweet nostalgia as the audience, in unison with the musicians, wave dozens of Puerto Rican flags and repeat the lyrics of this emblematic anthem. “In my old San Juan … I’m leaving (I’m leaving) but one day I’ll return to find my love, to dream again.”
I sought out the organizers. The beautiful (inside and out) Jennifer Gutiérrez says, “Housing, health, jobs, and access to food are, today, without a doubt, priorities of our Hispanic community.”
Alberto Valentín, executive director of Graham Avenue BID says, “We keep the neighborhood safe and clean, the community together, we work hard to be competitive in these difficult times … it is a labor of love.”
NYS Assembly Member Maritza Davila (53rd District) with a sweet smile tells me, “It is that understanding that Puerto Ricans have of love for their country, it is that understanding that is precious and unmatched.”
Egaudy Gomez, manager of Moore Street Market, is watching carefully, paying attention to the tiniest details, making sure everything runs smoothly.
I talk to people, I dance with them, I hug many and they hug me!
“Puerto Rico! Puerto Rico! Today we are all Puerto Ricans and whoever is not Boricua, is loved the same … it is the same water that wets us all”; beautiful words from a Dominican who from the stage, between song and song, cheers the people of “La Isla del Encanto” in New York, our Nuyoricans.
I have so much respect for this community and its leaders who continue to work and fight to ensure crucial services: access to affordable housing, health, work, and equity in education.
Towards the end of the day the skies finally open and a nice drizzle falls on the crowd dancing to the music of DJ Chino de Oro like a blessing.
It will take more than a little rain to stop this crowd from dancing!
I slowly walk back to my house in Los Sures, the music fading in my ears, but my palate still savoring the incomparable flavor of a Puerto Rican Mofongo dish cooked with love by Ramonita’s Restaurant.