It’s June, which means only one thing for many Latinos in New York City – the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. I grew up with the parade. As a child in the Bronx I was a drummer in a neighborhood “Batutera” band playing Latin beats as young girls with batons and pom-poms performed choreographed dances while marching in formation. When I was in college, I marched with my fraternity. Funny enough also doing choreographed dances while marching in formation – but we called them strolls. The parade has been a part of the summer in New York for as long as I can remember.
With the floats, music, the endless dancing and revelry, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade is the largest parade in New York City. Yes, that’s right, bigger than St. Patrick’s and bigger than Columbus Day. Given that the parade has spanned generations, its also seen significant changes, and as is typical of many things Latino, it’s fair share of drama. With the parade set to drop soon we thought it an appropriate to travel through time and look at some of its most historical and dramatic moments.
The Hispanic Day Parade
Surprise! While many will state (including the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Website) that the parade started in 1958, The Puerto Rican Day Parade can actually find its origins in the Hispanic Day Parade started by the Federation of Hispanic Societies, which included various Puerto Rican activist organizations. The idea and mission for the parade was to foster Latino unity amongst various Latin American immigrants, struggling to make it in the big apple.