Honoring Afro-Puerto Ricans: P.R. Day Parade Edition (2023)

The 2015 edition of the Puerto Rican Day parade is fast approaching, and we tip our hats to their efforts to educate and showcase the experience of Puerto Ricans in the United States and the island. One of the greatest proofs of this is this year’s focus on the often overlooked African legacy on our Puerto Rican culture. The celebrations, which are scheduled for Sunday June 14th on New York’s Fifth Avenue, will be a platform to raise global awareness of the beauty and rich legacy of Afro-boricuas in the island and stateside. And because we are in the business of delving deep into the history, culture, and present of all things Puerto Rican, check out Centro’s glimpse into the greatimpact of the figures the Parade will honor: Carmelo Sobrino, Dra. Marta Moreno Vega, Arturo Schomburg (posthumous), Mayra Santos Febres,Angel "Cucco" Peña, Martina Arroyo, Sylvia del Villard and Miguel Zenon.

Honoring Afro-Puerto Ricans: P.R. Day Parade Edition (1)
Carmelo Sobrino—Painter, educator
Painter, muralist, sculptor, teacher, engraver. These are some of the few roles attributed to Sobrino. A consummate painter, Carmelo Sobrino came to the arts at a very early age by way of his grandmother with whom he went to live after his father’s passing. Grandma did not only craft musical instruments, she was also a woodworker. The seed was planted and Sobrino delved into the study of art in Puerto Rico that led him to study under some of Puerto Rico’s masters, including Fran Cervoni, Carlos Raquel Rivera, Rafael Tufiño and Augusto Marín. Once a master of the craft himself, he set to pass on his knowledge to new generations of artists through Taller Alacrán, which he founded alongside another one of Puerto Rico’s great Antonio Martorell, and later through Taller Capricornio.Despite the many accomplishments, what stands out when one first speaks with Carmelo is a brilliant, humblespirit and understated demeanor."Do you come to Puerto Rico often?," he asked me mid-conversation during a recent phone interview. When I said yes, he responded, "When you come to P.R., call me. I'll treat you to coffee."He takes the time to make one feel welcomed and bring into hisspotlight many other Puerto Rican heroes.

Two of these,Juan Flores and Pedro Pietri, Carmelomet during the time he spent in New York City. In fact, Flores includes Sobrino, whose painting Salon de Calle graces the cover of his book The Diaspora Strikes Back, as a perfect example of transnational crossings for the artistic community in the island and New York, "Having been active in the island for over three decades..Sobrino felt impelled to spend some time in New York because some contact with the diaspora experience seemed to him necessary in order to attain a more complete knowledge of Puerto Rican culture." Carmelo settled in Harlem andspent most of his time in the streets, absorbing and observing the city.As he recalls, “When I was in NY, I would go to the streets and paint in the street. I would go to 42nd and paint New York’s bustle..I would take my canvas and would paint really huge pieces. I would set canvases as big as 4 feet by 5 feet on the avenue, and I would paint the flow of people…I still have a painting called What’s Cooking of the multitudesin the streets and What’s Happening…”According to Sobrino, whose paintings were some of the earlier paintings to be displayed atEl Museo del Barrio,he learned much from New York's rich culture.

(Video) National Puerto Rican Day Parade returns after 2-year hiatus

Another culture he sees as central to Puerto Rico's collective history isAfrican culture. When asked about this, Carmelo shares,“Afro-Antillean culture is involved in one of the biggest elements of culture--music--thatdictates the rhythm and movement of a people…here [in Puerto Rico] all cultural manifestations permeate with ourblack roots...Blacks here left a cultural legacy in our genes and in our lives…in music itself. Salsa, and all those Afro-Antillean rhythms are a product of black culture…great important figures like Campeche, who is the greatest painter our country has producedand during histime was the greatestpainter in all of America…maestro Cordero…we are a country with a great black influence…and even more than influence with a being. Without black roots, we would not be Puerto Rican.”Before we hang up, he adds, intent still on shining light on the contributions of other Puerto Ricans, “One of the best known black artists in the world…Jean-Michel Basquiat…isHaitian and Puerto Rican, whose mother Matildaintroduced him to art and nurtured and strengthened that talent…for us Puerto Ricans it is an honor to have him as one of our own…Puerto Rican from New York…make sure to honor our friend, Flores, who was a very special friend.”That attention to others, to the world around him, to the greats around him, is the quiet incisiveness of Sobrino’s work—what makes him a master painter and a master human being.

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Dra. Marta Moreno Vega—President and Founder, Caribbean Cultural Center
Marta Moreno Vega, a vibrant educator, has been an explorer of all things Puerto Rican, African diaspora, and Latino identity and culture almost from birth. This interest was most likely passed on to Moreno Vega through her parents and grandparents, all born and raised in Puerto Rico. They made sure to infuse her Puerto Rican culture into their home in New York. As she shared with Centro, "My parents painted the walls of our home with the colors of their beloved Puerto Rico. The aqua blue of the sea, the vibrant pink and yellow of homes, the green of the trees. Images of santos católicos, although we never went to church, and the fragrance of tuber roses were always present intermingles with the music of Ramito, Tito Puente and Celina y Reutilio singing to the Orishas." That spirit came to life as she came to her own. With a bachelor’s and master’s degree from NYU,and later a PhD from Temple University, she set to shine light onto the Hispanic arts. She soon became “a leading figure in the preservation and showcasing of Hispanic arts in the New York area.” Dr. Moreno Vega’s accomplishments are many, having founded the Amigos del Museo del Barrio, co-founded the Association of Hispanic Arts, and most recently co-founded the Global Afro-Latino and Caribbean Initiative in 2000. She is also a published author, and published The Altar of My Soul: The Living Traditions of Santeria in 2000 and When the Spirits Dance Mambo: Growing Up Nuyorican in El Barrio in 2004. Her magna opus of sorts, however, is the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, which she founded in 1976 (then under the name of the Visual Arts Research and Resource Center Relating to the Caribbean).

The impetus to start the organization came during her tenure as the second director of New York City'sEl Museo Del Barrio. She recounts, "we recreated an exhibition entitled La Esclavitud focused on enslavement of Africans and its legacy in Puerto Rico. I was taken aback by the reaction of our communities' denial that the beauiful images they were viewing of Loíza and Ponce and other locations on the island, taken by photographer Hiram Maristany, were not Puerto Rico but somewhere else. The racist and discriminatory reactions of our own skin coloring reflected on the images on view made it clear that another organization was necessary to address the history, legacy and contributions of African descendants in the Americas." And so CCCADI was born to highlight the importance of the African experience in this region. Dr. Moreno Vega’s commitment to her community is evident in all of her work. So is her identity as an Afro-Puerto Rican woman. As she shared in a 2012 interview to New Latina, “As an Afro-Puerto Rican, mother and member of my family, I am clear that it is critical that the stories of my community be part of world history…Our communities are still invisible to broader communities because they are viewed as 'other'or 'minority'. We are not minorities, we are not others, we are an integral part of the fabric of this nation. Therefore our experiences and stories are to be made visible, respected and honored.” Through her efforts, Dr. Moreno Vega has not only managed to open up our understanding of these experiences and stories, she has become a story we must pass on.

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Arturo Schomburg—Historian, Author and Activist
Arturo Schomburg is not a name one immediately associates with Puerto Rico. Yet it belongs to a man that deserves a prime spot in our book of Puerto Rican pioneers in the United States.Part of the reason he may not be as well known as his accomplishmnents warrant can be attributed to a circuitous trajectory.Schomburg providesa beautiful complexity that may help US Puerto Ricans, and even island Puerto Ricans,negotiating that odd relationship between the US and Puerto Rico breathe easier at night. He is the epitome of fluid identity. He was nationalist, Puerto Rican, intellectual, African American, Afro-boricua, poet, West Indian, historian all at once.

Schomburg haslong been recognized (and if you haven’t been to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New YorkPublic Library, what are you waiting for?) as a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance and one that helped set the groundwork for the Civil Rights movement of later years. Yet, he has lurked within Puerto Rican history, slowly becominga kind of quiet hero for other Puerto Ricans living in the intersections. Born in Puerto Rico in 1874, the son of a black West Indian mother and German father, Schomburg moved to the United States when he was 17. AsJesse Hoffnung-Garskof has written in"The Migrations of Arturo Schomburg: On Being Antillano, Negro, and Puerto Rican in New York 1891-1938,"this was well before Puerto Ricans settled in droves in New York City and when Cubans were the biggest group of exiles in the city. He soon, as other Puerto Ricans of the time did, associated with the Cuban andPuerto Ricannationalists, and particularly the Partido Revolucionario Cubano and its Puerto Rican wing. He founded the revolutionary club, Las Dos Antillas, and became deeply involved in the movement. The nationalist cause, however, was not the only cause that defined him. Shrouded in the myth of racial democracy that evolved in Cuban and Puerto Rico nationalist causes was a space for Afro-Cubans and Afro-Puerto Ricans politics that did not necessarily exist back home.

(Video) 2022 Puerto Rican Day Parade

No doubt, Schomburg’s commitment to uncovering and sharing the history of blacks (and particularly of black heroism) in the Caribbean and the United States took shape in this context. After the Spanish American War, the end of the Cuban Revolutionary struggle and the beginning of Puerto Rico's colonial relationship with the United States (coupled withthe death of his wife in 1900), Schomburg became increasingly disillusioned with the nationalist cause anddivorced himself (although never completely) from his nationalist identity, and the brand of racial politics the myth of racial harmony allowed. He delved deeper into black social circles, into middle class and intellectual African American circles that birthed the Harlem Renaissance, and adopted a pan-African ideology, which he articulated in a myriad of ways. Most significant was his zeal for collecting and writing the history of blacks across the globe, which not only earned him a wing in the New York Public Library, it makes him a necessary Puerto Rican to know and honor.

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Mayra Santos Febres—Author
Asthma drove Mayra Santos Febres to the pen. She was 5 years old living in the Puerto Rico where she was born. As she once told the Barcelona Review, "Since I couldn't climb trees or bike like the other kids in my neighborhood, Ispent my time describing how I would climb the highest tree in the universe and how I would ride a bike to the farthest coast on the island and I would then dive to the bottom of the sea until I reached far away lands where the air would be generous with everyone, even with those who had trouble breathing." And so it was that one of Puerto Rico's premier modern writers was born. Though her work is vast (she has published over 10 books in the past 25 years),she is best known for her very first novelSirena Selena vestida de pena,or Sirena Selena in English,and Nuestra Señora de la Noche. As if that wasn't enough,she is also the Executive Director of the Festival de la Palabra.

Santos Febres, who self-identifies as Afro-Boricua, shared her thoughtsabout black culture in Puerto Rico and about the Puerto Rican Day Parade honorwith Centro, "Being Puerto Rican is, in itself, being afroboricua. All boricuas are afroboricuas culturally. In my case, my color identifies me as such without a doubt. It’s an honor to belong to the great stock of Roberto Clemente, Sylvia del Villard, Arturo Schomburg, Samuel Lind, Daniel Lind, Julia de Burgos, Cecila Orta, Angelita Lind, Cucco Peña, Juan Morel Campos, José Campeche, Pedro Albizu Campos, José Celso Barbosa, Carmelo Sobrino,Awilda Sterling, Ruth Fernández, Lucy Favery, Carmen Belén Richardson, Ramos Antonini, and so many other black politicians, sportsmen, orators, painters, composers, authors, dancers, historians, doctors who have elevated Puerto Rico. I receive this award in name of my ancestors and those of my people."And so it is that in Santos Febres words, whether written or spoken, the past, present, and future of Puerto Rico achieves the kind of depth and beauty that makes all Puerto Ricans shine.

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Cucco Peña—Musician, Composer and Arranger
Known as one of the best arrangers of Puerto Rican Music not only in the eyes of Puerto Ricans but of the world, Angel "Cucco" Peña was born in Santurce Puerto Rico to a family of musicians. In fact, he is the third generation in a family whose name is synonymous with popular music in Puerto Rico. His father, "Lito" Peña,founded the renowned Orquesta Panamericana (Pan American Orchestra).Speaking of his childhood, Cucco shared with Centro, “Music, for generations, since the times of my grandfather to my children, has been at the center of our family… My grandfather Don Juan Peña Reyes and my father, Don Lito Peña, were inspired, serious, and studious musicians who transmitted to me the love and a great respect for music since I was very little.”

CuccoPeñastarted playing music at an early age and studied in the prestigious Conservatorio de Musica of Puerto Rico. As he remembers, “I started playing the trumpet when I was 17 in my dad’s orchestra. This was my Alma Matter for all intents and purposes. Playing in dances, recording, accompanying artists of all genres from Celia Cruz to Sammy Davis, from Ruth Fernandez and Cheo Feliciano to Rubén Blades or Willy Colón.” His career has taken him across borders, musical genres, and roles. He is equally comfortable as an arranger, composer, producer, and publicist. He has worked with the likes ofGilberto Santa Rosa, Marc Anthony, Celia Cruz,Chayanne and Ricky Martin, amongts many others;has multiple Grammy nominations,Cannes nomintions, Carnegie Hall appearancesand Banco Popular specials under his belt.

(Video) Puerto Rican Day Parade back in full swing

Speaking of the honor bestowed by the Puerto Rican Day Parade, which includes the opportunity to compose the theme music for the parade “Obertura Patria,” and of his ties to New York City, Peña shares, “This recognition by the Puerto Rican Day Parade has been an honor and a sweet surprise. I feel deeply connected to the Puerto Rican community in New York for many reasons. I think that, like me, the majority of Puerto Ricans have family that moved to N.Y. and built there a new life, who we love and miss as much as they do us...On the other hand, some of my first trips to New York were as musician for La Panamericana, when we would play in Teatro Puerto Rico and the clubs of the 70s and 80s. It filled us with pride to travel to NewYorkin those times and share the stage with the great orchestras of distinguished Puerto Ricans like Tito Puente and Tito Rodríguez…Essentially, my career has been tied to New York from the beginning…”The same can be said of his connection to his African identity. “In Puerto Rico, like the saying goes, ‘el que no tiene dinga tiene mandinga,’ in other words, that we understand since elementary school that all of us, in some major or minor degree, have African blood in our veins, and for me, as I’m sure for other Puerto Rican musicians and artists, my blackness has been a kind of passport to the heaven of Afro-Caribbean music. I’ve always thought that the contribution of the Caribbean to world music resides in its rhythms, and at the same time, those Afro-Caribbean rhythms are our presentation card to the world, and a flag that we elevate proudly wherever we go.” Peña will be doing just that come the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

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Martina Arroyo—Opera Singer
One of the most glorious voices in the world, saidthe New York Times once, belong to this operatic soprano ofPuerto Rican descent. Born in New Yorkto a Puerto Rican father and an African Americanmother, Martina grew up in Harlem. Both parents put a premium on education, which led Martina to pursue and graduate with a teaching degree from Hunter College. Opera entered her life well before that. Both her parents sang, though not professionally,and as a student at Hunter High School, she secured a spot in the Hunter College Opera Workshop during an impromptu audition with the Director Joseph Turnau. As Rosalyn M. Story recounts on her book, So I Sing, "Arroyo wandered in one day and sang an informal audition—a photentically learned yet musically impressive rendering of the 'Jewel Song' from Faust memorized from a recording." Arroyo fell in love with and fearleslly pursued her newfound interest in opera, which she balanced withher work as social worker for the East End Welfare Center. Contradictory as these two worlds may seem, they most likely contributed to the determination and down-to-earth pizzaz that made her not only one of the world's foremost opera singer of the 70s and 80s but a force that opened the opera world to other people, and particularly women, of color.

Similar intersections converge when Arroyo speaks of her identity.Asked how she defines herself upon earning the coveted Kennedy Center Honors in 2013, the Washington Post reported, "Her name and part of her heritage are Hispanic, but Arroyo has never particularly self-identified as such. 'I am what you see,'she says: 'a black woman.'She adds, 'I’m a New Yorker through and through. My father’s Spanish became so bad I used to have to translate for him. He was more American than I’ll ever be.'' Later, speaking of her black identity, she shared, "'I thought the color problem was the other man’s problem,'she says. 'I didn’t know how to carry that burden. I also came from a home where color didn’t matter. I wasn’t as aware as someone who came from a situation where there was segregation. . . . I had never been an outsider. It gives you a type of fearlessness because you don’t know you’re going to run into the problem, and I didn’t run into it. Or if I did, I didn’t know about it.'"The responses, honest,layered, complex, even initiallyjarring for those who may identify as Latinos or with the struggles of the black community, whispers a powerful message. New Yorker, Spanish and English speaking, American and yet not as much as her Puerto Rican father, black and consciously unaware of the color problem. When you consider the many forms and genres that converge in opera—the space in which Martina soared—these responses make sense. All these identities at once and noneat all madeand make Martinaa unique brand of Puerto Rican, one that is ironically universal to the US Puerto Rican experience.

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Sylvia del Villard—Choreographer, Actress and Activist
Sylvia del Villard, one of the staunchest defender of Afro-Puerto Rican culture in Puerto Rico and the United States, was born a year before the Stock Market Crash and amidst growing economic woes in Puerto Rico. As it was common for some poorer Puerto Rican and Latin American families of the time, her parents left her to the care of Paula Moreno Herrera, who according to author and journalist Juan Moreno Velazquez, Sylvia knew and recognized as her mother thereafter. Moreno Herrera took care of Sylvia until she was old enough to attend college. Even then, she showed hints of the brilliance that evolved in later years during her time in the United States. She received a scholarship to study at Fisk University in Tennessee. She studied Anthropology and Social Work there, and encountered the rampant racism that was common in the deep south of those days. There's little evidence to show how this affected Sylvia, but she ended up completing her studies at the University of Puerto Rico.Later, she continued her education at the City University of New York (CUNY) while training her voiceunder the likes ofSonya Rudenka and evenLeo Braun ofthe Metropolitan Opera. It was in New York where she fell in love with Africa and developed the kind of racial politics that she later applied to her long career as an actress and dancer first in Puerto Rico and later again in New York City and even Hollywood.

Sylvia's commitment to African and Afro-Puerto Rican culture took on many forms. She danced, symbolically and literally, between dance/song/theater and education; between Puerto Rico and New York and later California.As a student at CUNY, she joined Africa House, a song and dance troupe. She chereographed pieces based on The Boyfriend, The Crucible, and Witches of Salemthat toured the United States to much fanfare. She would then turn around and perform Alejandro Tapia y Rivera'sLa cuarteronaand the poetry of Luis Palés Matos.She eventually founded theAfro-Boricua El CoquíTheater in Puerto Rico, the Luis Palés Matos Theater in San Juan, and later the Soninke company in New York.

(Video) Controversy At Puerto Rican Day Parade

Of note was also her activism and consistent efforts to exalt Afro-Puerto Rican culture. One particular incident speaks to that.Shewas avocal criticof the telenovela industry's racist practices, and during the early 70s took oncondemningAngela Mayer's use of blackface in the portrayal of Chianita in the soap opera, El hijo de Ángela María. In 1974, recounts author of Tuning Out Blackness, Yeidy M. Rivero, del Villard used a television appearance meant to plug an upcoming show to"condemn racial discrimination, the use of blackface, and Chianita. Del Villardindicated that watching white actors in blackface was 'repulsive' and that 'blacks in Puerto Rico were tired of this situation.'" Be it through dance, culture, or by speaking against racism, del Villard carved an important space for herself in the history of Puerto Ricans, regardless of location.

Honoring Afro-Puerto Ricans: P.R. Day Parade Edition (8)
Miguel Zenón—Jazz Musician and Composer
Fresh from his recent performance of "Identities are Changeable: Tales from the Diaspora" at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, alto sax player, Miguel Zenón commands our attention once again as one of the parades honorees. Zenón, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, has been infusing Puerto Ricanness into his music for some time. Sometimes subtle and other times blatantly so, his connection to Puerto Rico is evident. As Noraliz Ruiz has already writtenin Centro Voices about Zenón, his “extensive discography, with nine albums as a leader, evidences Puerto Rican influence, from the clearest rhythmic references of plena to the melodic deconstruction of the Puerto Rican seis. Traces of Puerto Rican folk and popular music have been constant throughout Zenón’s career.” His latest album, Identities are Changeable, Zenón “poses a novel approach to Puerto Rican music, and it is precisely jazz, with its infinite sonic possibilities, that lends him enough room to explore and experiment with a concept as subjective as identity, from a Nuyorican lens. The experiences of seven Nuyoricans addressing what it means to be Puerto Rican provide the storyline of this project, resulting in a jazz suite entirely driven by oral history.”

How does a Puerto Rican born on the island approach the Puerto Rican U.S. experience, of which he is now one? Zenón explained to Ruiz, “I’ve been interested in the phenomenon that is the Puerto Rican community in the U.S. for a very long time. I have family in New York City and would visit them from an early age, so my initial curiosity was born then and it was rekindled when NYC became my permanent home in 1998. What put me over the edge in terms of jumping into this project was a book by the late Juan Flores called The Diaspora Strikes Back, on which he conducted interviews with various individuals (of Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican heritage)…I went into the interviews basically looking for the answer to one question: What does it mean to be Puerto Rican? If there was one thing I learned from this project, it was that there is not one correct answer; it could vary greatly depending on each individual, the opportunities they were presented with and the choices that they made."

One of the ways to answer that question, Zenón found, was through exploring the issue of Afro-Puerto Ricannes. One song in particular, “Same Fight,” explores the intersections and commonalities of Puerto Ricans and African Americans in New York. Speaking about this particular song to Centro’s staff, Zenón provides insights about Afro-Boricuas more generally, “I’ve been curious about the natural attraction between the Puerto Rican community and the African American community, be it in the language, in the style, in what they listened…When we speak of a struggle, we speak ofthe same struggle, right?And we speak of how these communities come together…eversince the Puerto Ricans arrived in the United States,inart spaces, in music spaces, with hip hop, for instance, which is something that has also been studied a lot…And also from the perspective of the Afro-Latino, no? Many times, especially in the United States, it is assumed that when one speaks of an African America, we refer to a person of African descent...but one who comes from here in the United States. There’s no mention of America in general…” Yet, the reality is that Latin America and the Caribbean also have a very important place in those conversations. Zenon’s rhythms, jazz laced with the sounds of the Caribbean, have opened up the discussion. Catch his full insights in the interview below.

(Video) Puerto Rican Day Parade returning Sunday

Exploring, understanding, and sharing the stories of these singular Puerto Ricans honored by the Puerto Rican Day Parade, I am struck by their multifaceted experiences, of their ability to inhabit several worlds at once. Not that this should surprise me. Identity as a construction, identity as a fluid, elusive thing is not a novel idea. What it is, however, is a silently accepted tenet in our Puerto Rican culture, one that becomes more visible when we speak of often silenced issues of race and blackness in Puerto Rican communities. To see these honorees wear their many identities so visibly, vocally, deliciously shamelessly for display on the Puerto Rican Day Parade is a sign of good things to come for the event and for the ways we understand and celebrate what it means to be Puerto Rican more fully.

Photos of Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, Angel "Cucco" Peña,Miguel Zenon, and Carmelo Sobrino provided by them. Photo of Mayra Santos Febres was courtesy of and credited toDaniel Mordzinski. Photo of Sylvia Villard courtesy of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Photo of Martina Arroyo is fromhttp://www.martinaarroyo.com/discography.html.Photo of Artur Schomburg is from theSchomburg Center for Research in Black Culture /General Research and Reference Division/The New York Public Library.

© Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Published in Centro Voices on 5 June 2015.


How is the Puerto Rican Day parade celebrated? ›

Annually, the NPRDP hosts over fifteen major events throughout the city including educational and scholarship receptions, music festivals, health walkathons, Miss Puerto Rico - Cultural Pageant, Sports Event “Juegos Boricuas”, and our “Golden Age Fiesta” for seniors just to name a few.

Is the Puerto Rican Parade Cancelled 2022? ›

We look forward to next year's Parade. Please check back on our website in early 2023 for details on how to participate. The 2022 celebration will feature a special TV broadcast to air on June 12, hosted by WABC-TV anchors Joe Torres and David Novarro, along with Sunny Hostin, co-host of “The View.”

What is the meaning of the Puerto Rican Parade? ›

The parade is held on the second Sunday in June, in honor of the 3.2 million inhabitants of Puerto Rico and all people of Puerto Rican birth or heritage residing on the U.S. mainland. The parade attracts many celebrities, both Puerto Rican and of Puerto Rican heritage, and many politicians from the Tri-State area.

What is the most important cultural expression of Puerto Rico? ›

Music & Dance

Dance and music are essential when describing the energy and vibrancy of Puerto Rico. They are the epitome of traditional expressions of the Island's culture and heritage.

What is the most important celebration of Puerto Ricans? ›

While Christmas is celebrated in Puerto Rico, the festivity the locals look forward to the most is Three Kings Day, or El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos.

Where can I watch the Puerto Rican Day parade 2022? ›

Puerto Rican Day parade - best viewing

The parade marches along Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 79th Street and includes delegates from various towns of Puerto Rico and U.S. states across the country.

Why do Puerto Ricans celebrate Puerto Rican Day Parade? ›

The Parade celebrates the influence and achievements of Puerto Ricans in the city and the U.S. Every year an " International Grand Marshall" of the Parade is chosen from Puerto Ricans who have contributed or made a positive impact on the American culture.

Who is the grand marshall for the Puerto Rican Parade 2022? ›

Veterans Services Commissioner Santiago To Serve As Grand Marshal of the 2022 Puerto Rican Parade. The City of Boston's Department of Veterans Services announced today that Commissioner Robert Santiago will serve as the Grand Marshal for the return of Boston's Puerto Rican Parade.

What are the three symbols of Puerto Rico? ›

Official NamePuerto Rico - The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
National SymbolEl Coquí, a tiny 1" tree frog that sings throughout the night
National TreeCeiba
National FlowerMaga
National BirdReinita
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What is the purpose of parade? ›

A parade is a procession of people or vehicles moving through a public place in order to celebrate an important day or event. A military parade marched slowly and solemnly down Pennsylvania Avenue.

What is the leader of a parade called? ›

Parade grand marshals

A community grand marshal or other designations may be selected alongside a grand marshal to lead the front or other parts of the parade.

What are Puerto Ricans most proud of? ›

Puerto Ricans are proud of their cultural heritage and history, stemming from a mix of Taíno, Spanish, and African traditions. Whether it's through music, art, food, traditions, festivals, or one of many other bountiful options, culture is present—and waiting to be discovered—in every corner of this Caribbean paradise.

What is the Puerto Rican motto? ›

The Latin motto, "JOANNES EST NOMEN EJUS" (a quotation from the Vulgate of Luke 1:63), means "John is his name", referring to St. John the Baptist or San Juan Bautista, the original Spanish name of the island.

What does Bomba mean in Puerto Rico? ›

bom·​ba ˈbōm-bə plural bombas. : a traditional Puerto Rican drum consisting of a barrel with a goatskin head. : a genre of Puerto Rican dance accompanied by drums and other percussion. also : a song sung by a soloist and chorus to accompany a bomba.

What are 3 things Puerto Rico is known for? ›

Puerto Rico is the world's leading rum producer; 80% of the rum consumed in the United States hails from the island. There is a counted number bioluminescent bays in the entire world. Puerto Rico is home three bioluminescent bays.

What are the 3 main cultural influences in Puerto Rican culture? ›

Because of the many interactions between the native Taino people and Spanish settlers, Puerto Rican culture is a blend of Taino, Spanish, and African cultures.

What ethnicities make up a Puerto Rican? ›

Nationality: Noun Puerto Rican(s). Adjective Puerto Rican. Ethnic composition: white (mostly Spanish origin) 80.5%, black 8%, Amerindian 0.4%, Asian 0.2%, mixed and other 10.9%.

What was Puerto Rico's original name? ›

Initially, Columbus christened the Island San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist). The name was soon changed to Puerto Rico, or “rich port,” when the Spaniards realized the impressive amount of gold found in its rivers. When the capital city was established, it took the name of San Juan.

Will the Puerto Rican Day parade be televised? ›

The celebration will be broadcast live on ABC13's 24/7 livestream, it's now underway, and the parade will also be broadcast on the ABC affiliated station in Puerto Rico, Telecinco (Channel 5), and on the station's free news and connected TV apps on Amazon FireTV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku.

Is the Puerto Rican parade being televised? ›

The 2022 celebration will feature a special TV broadcast to air on June 12, hosted by WABC-TV anchors Joe Torres and David Novarro, along with Sunny Hostin, co-host of “The View.”

Is the parade going to be on TV? ›

Like last year, NBC is the official broadcaster of the 2022 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. CBS will also show the parade on their network, hosted by the crew from Entertainment Tonight. If you're in New York (or nearby), you can also go watch it in person.

Why do people wear Vejigante masks? ›

Vejigante masks were used in processions to honor Saint James and later during Carnaval Ponceño, Ponce Carnaval for one week and ending the day before Ash Wednesday. Vejigante is from the words "vejiga" which means bladder and "gante" which means giant.

What do Puerto Ricans celebrate June 12? ›

Celebrate the 65th Annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade on Fifth Avenue on June 12, 2022.

Who is the king of the Puerto Rican Day parade? ›

Our king of the parade is Nicky Jam, Fat Joe is our godfather, and Angela Martinez godmother," Alsina said.

Has a Puerto Rican won a Nobel Prize? ›

Taylor won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery, which had turned out to have enormous implications for astrophysics and the theory of general relativity. This was also one of the first Nobel Prizes with a Puerto Rican connection.

How many Puerto Ricans have won the Medal of Honor? ›

Nine Puerto Ricans have been awarded the United States' highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—while seven have been awarded the Navy Cross and nineteen have been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Who is the Endymion grand marshal? ›

This year American music icon Diana Ross and the ever-popular Maroon 5 band will headline the Extravaganza lineup. Fox News contributor and New Orleans native Raymond Arroyo will serve as grand marshal of the 2022 Endymion Carnival parade.

Who is the god of Puerto Rico? ›

Yúkiyu Bagua Maórokoti
God of creation, the sky, the sea, bountiful harvest and peace
A stone representation of the three-pointed zemi found in Puerto Rico (c. 1000-1494 AD)
AbodeEl Yunque
SymbolThree-pointed zemi, frog, rain, cassava and derivatives
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What does the evil eye mean in Puerto Rico? ›

Azabache Bracelets - Mal de ojo, or evil eye, is believed to result of excessive admiration or envious looks by others. Having newborn babies wear an azabache (a gold bracelet or necklace with a black or red coral charm in the form of a fist), is believed to protect them from the evil eye.

What is the flower of Puerto Rico? ›

Because of deforestation and disturbance, the species has become common throughout the moist and wet areas of Puerto Rico. Flor de Maga's flower is the “national” flower of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

What are benefits of parade? ›

Other Benefits of Carnivals and Parades

Creating a platform for socialisation: There are a great many people that don't get the opportunity to socialise. Being able to attend carnivals and parades is a way that gets them out of the house for a day. They don't need to make any long term commitments.

What is a parade in your own words? ›

A parade is a group of people marching in ceremony, celebration, or protest. Often a parade involves fire trucks, costumed adults throwing candy to children, baton twirlers, and members of the armed forces. Parade is also a verb, meaning to walk or march ostentatiously.

What's the difference between a parade and a pageant? ›

A parade is easy to define. It is a procession of people—and perhaps floats, bands, vehicles, and animals—from one place to another. Pageant, however, is a less precise word. It can refer to a series of staged dramatic performances—such as re-creations of battles from the American Civil War.

What are parade dancers called? ›

A majorette is a baton twirler whose twirling performance is often accompanied by dance, movement, or gymnastics; they are primarily associated with marching bands during parades. Majorettes can also spin knives, fire knives, flags, light-up batons, fire batons, maces and rifles.

How many commanders are there in a parade? ›

Thirty-six commands have to be given during the entire parade.

Why is Puerto Rico called Boricua? ›

Native Population

Puerto Rico's native Taíno population—whose hunter-gatherer ancestors settled the island more than 1,000 years before the Spanish arrived—called it Borinquén, and referred to themselves as boricua (a term that is still used today).

What religion is Puerto Rico? ›

Today, depending on the source, Puerto Rico's population is between 75 and 85 percent Roman Catholic.

What state has the most Puerto Rican population? ›

In the 21st century, the principal destination for Puerto Ricans is the state of Florida, which today houses the largest concentration of Puerto Ricans, having surpassed New York state.

What does Bobo mean in Puerto Rico? ›

(= tonto) silly ⧫ stupid.

What DNA do Puerto Ricans have? ›

The average Puerto Rican is made up of 12% Native American, 65% West Eurasian (Mediterranean, Northern European and/or Middle Eastern) and 20% Sub-Saharan African DNA, so don't be surprised if your family tells you that their ancestors came from somewhere utterly different to your expectations.

What do you call a Puerto Rican person? ›

plural Boricuas also boricuas. : a native of Puerto Rico or a person of Puerto Rican descent.

What does Chula mean in Puerto Rico? ›

Chula is Spanish slang for “cute” or “a beautiful woman,” often seen in mami chula (“hottie”).

What does Compai mean in Puerto Rico? ›

General. 1. General. compai [expr] DO. howdy neighbor!

What does dito mean in Puerto Rico? ›

variants are ¡Ay bendito! and dito - “aw man” or “oh my god”; “ay” meaning lament, and “bendito” meaning blessed.

How is Carnaval celebrated in Puerto Rico? ›

Each year the Carnival lasts the whole month of February with parades, music, and special events. The Carnival is a special celebration before the Christian season of Lent, the six weeks before Easter. During the Carnival, people make elaborate masks, dress up in costumes, dance, and play music.

What happened at the Puerto Rican Parade? ›

The Puerto Rican Day Parade attacks occurred on June 11, 2000 in Manhattan, New York City, and involved multiple assailants who harassed, sexually assaulted, and robbed random victims. Many of the attacks were caught on video, and received worldwide attention.

How do Puerto Rican children celebrate Three Kings Day? ›

In Puerto Rico, Three Kings Day is celebrated with presents, traditional Puerto Rican food, music, family gatherings and parades. During parades, people flood the streets to collect presents from the three wise men riding on camels.

What is the difference between Carnaval and Carnival? ›

Etymology. The Latin-derived name of the holiday is sometimes also spelled Carnaval, typically in areas where Dutch, French, Spanish, and Portuguese are spoken, or Carnevale in Italian-speaking contexts. Alternative names are used for regional and local celebrations.

What does Carnaval symbolize? ›

The 7-foot-tall snowman was declared as the mascot of Carnaval in 1955.

What are two ways to celebrate Carnival? ›

Each year, people from various places like the Caribbean, Europe, South America and Canada commemorate this festival. It often involves rich foods, lively parades as well as other incredible types of entertainment that range from musical performances to circus stunts.

Why Puerto Rican are so proud? ›

Puerto Ricans are proud of their cultural heritage and history, stemming from a mix of Taíno, Spanish, and African traditions. Whether it's through music, art, food, traditions, festivals, or one of many other bountiful options, culture is present—and waiting to be discovered—in every corner of this Caribbean paradise.

What is the oldest celebration in Puerto Rico? ›

The Carnaval de Ponce (English: Ponce Carnival), officially Carnaval Ponceño, is an annual celebration held in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The celebration lasts one week and it ends on the day before Ash Wednesday.
Carnaval de Ponce
First time1858
Related toLent
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What do you leave for 3 Kings day? ›

Kids Leave Their Shoes Out For Presents

Similar to stockings at Christmas, many children leave out their shoes the night before Three Kings Day. The shoes are filled with hay to feed the Three Wise Men's camels, and in exchange, the Three Wise Men leave candies and toys in the shoes of good children.

What is the traditional food for the 3 Kings day? ›

Rosca de reyes (also known as Roscón de reyes) is a Spanish and Latin American dessert bread traditionally served on Three Kings Day, which is celebrated on January 6th.

What are some traditions people do on Three Kings Day? ›

For many families, Three Kings Day is as big of a celebration as Christmas Day. It's customary to gather with friends and family to celebrate, often by opening gifts, playing music, and sharing a large meal together.


1. Man killed and wife wounded while celebrating Puerto Rican Day Parade in Chicago
(FOX 32 Chicago)
2. NYC celebrates Puerto Rican Day Parade 2019
(PIX11 News)
3. Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC makes comeback
(PIX11 News)
4. East Harlem festival brings crowd before Puerto Rican Day Parade
(PIX11 News)
5. The 2015 Puerto Rican Day Parade Honors Arturo Schomburg
(Schomburg Center)
6. National Puerto Rican Day Parade returns to NYC
(PIX11 News)
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