Sunset’s Boricua festival to celebrate 20 years, raise money for Puerto Rico

June 19, 2018 Jaime DeJesus
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Celebrating two decades of Puerto Rican pride, the annual Boricua Festival Salsa at the Waterfront is returning to Sunset Park, this year with the same great time but with a bit of different focus.

Being held on Saturday, June 30, the event, which will feature music from top talent such as 10-time Grammy Award winner Eddie Palmieri, food and entertainment for the kids, and also a relief effort for Puerto Rico after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria.

Co-Founder and President of the Boricua Festival Committee Pat Ruiz is happy to be able to give back.

“What is different this year is we will be actually fundraising for Puerto Rico,” she said. “We were given the go-ahead by the EDC (the city’s Economic Development Corporation), and they have graciously helped us in being a major sponsor in our event so that’s been a great collaboration. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to Unidos Puerto Rico. We were planning to fundraise for ourselves, but we nixed that in light of Maria and wanting to give back to the island.”

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Shortly after the deadly hurricane, the committee held two fundraisers and raised enough money to buy five generators for the island.

The committee’s scholarship program, the Dr. Antonia Pantoja Youth Leadership & Service Award, is also returning.

“Bed Bath and Beyond that come as a sponsor for the scholarship program,” she said. “We are giving out three this year, two $1,000 scholarships and one $500 scholarship. [Bed Bath and Beyond] is going to be giving each winner a gift card. We’re excited about that.”

Any student, ages 17 and up, of Puerto Rican heritage can apply. “It’s based on their volunteer commitment and achievements through leadership and community service that have made a significant impact on their neighborhood,” Ruiz said.

The music, which is headlined by Palmieri, will be a highlight for most attendees.

“We are really excited we are able to get Eddie Palmieri,” Ruiz said. “We didn’t think it would happen but he generously accepted our invitation.”

Also performing will be La Tipica Novel and Noel y La 718. A magician will also be performing for the kids.

The year’s event is also a special one for Ruiz.

“This is my 20th year as the original co-founder of the Boricua Festival and having struggled, even to the point of this year saying to the committee I don’t think we can do this, I’m really excited I can make it for my 20th year and do it for something as important as [Hurricane Maria relief for Puerto Rico],” she said. “My excitement for the festival is still the same.”

The festival will be held on Saturday, June 30 from 12-7 p.m. at Pier 4 at 58th St. and First Ave.

For more information, visit To apply for the scholarship program, visit

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