Jeffrey Vargas, a 39 year-old Puerto Rican from New Jersey, was a college student when he started going to the parade after hearing about it for years.
“It was something that used to capture my attention and I looked forward to going to it,”
Vargas, a tech manager and Brooklyn native, shared.
“What I disliked about the experience was that in some parts it seemed like groups of troublemakers were making it uncomfortable for people to enjoy the parade. After going to it for several years, and participating in it several times, it lost its luster.”
Other people I know were disturbed by the spectators themselves. Although Antonio Tapia, 35, grew up in the Bronx and went to the parade with his family as a child, he decided in his mid-20s to stop.
“I stopped going because I became disgusted with a number of elements at the parade,”
Tapia, an educator who now lives in Oakland, California, said.
“The behavior of many men and women who went to the parade to hit on each other [was ridiculous]; and my sense that many of the people in attendance had little idea of the political elements of Puerto Rico as well as little sense of the island’s history. The latter made me think that too many Puerto Ricans from the US were oblivious to the meaning of calling oneself ‘Puerto Rican’ (historically, politically, and even culturally).”
“It has become focused on promoting entertainment, consumer products and as a showcase for politicians who want to be seen supporting a key segment of the Latino community,”
Vargas pointed out. Whether hawking a product or looking for a hookup, the parade really has become a place for both.
Some people still appreciate the parade’s original intention — to celebrate the community and culture. The sheer joy of being surrounded by your gente is irreplaceable. That’s how Edgar D. Rodriguez, 24, a student from Portland, Oregon felt going to the parade for the first time in 2011 with his father.
“I liked spending a day surrounded by my people, listening to the same music and doing the same things that make me proud to be a Puerto Rican,”
Rodriguez explained. The way it unites Boricuas from across the spectrum impressed him the most.
“It is a great opportunity to Puerto Ricans to meet and connect with other Puerto Ricans without regard for factors that would normally separate them, such as jobs, residence, simply not knowing each other,”