Sunset Park’s Puerto Rican Day Parade not taking place after mayor cancels all city events through June
Mayor Bill de Blasio canceled all public events through June due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in Sunset Park’s Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival not taking place for the first time since 2014.
The growing tradition began in June 2015 by community organization El Grito de Sunset Park when they received the permit from the city for the event. Before the group organized the event, the neighborhood didn’t see a Puerto Rican Day parade in two decades.
“I told you we were going to talk to the organizers of events in June, which includes some really big important annual events,” de Blasio said during a press conference. “We have had those conversations and this probably will not surprise you, but I’m now reporting today that we will cancel city permits for June events as well. It’s not a happy announcement but it’s one we have to make. And look, a lot of these events will be postponed.”
He added that “the permits are being canceled for June, but the event organizers, a lot of them are looking at doing something later in the year, and we’re going to work with them on that. And, again, I think the fact that they’re postponing now is actually going to help us get to that point later in the year where things can open up and be better.”
El Grito de Sunset Park founder Dennis Flores talked to this paper about the event not taking place this year and what matters most for himself and the organization.
“For El Grito, the purpose of our parade began with creating an outlet for parade goers to keep safe and creating that alternate space after the manhattan parade,” he said. “With that same sentiment, we now need to keep our community safe from this disease, and if that means one way we can make that happen is by not having a parade to keep our community at home, then let that be. That’s a small factor when dealing with a pandemic of this magnitude.”
He also added about the struggles that continue to take place in Puerto Rico.
“Our concerns lie with our Sunset Park community and our continued love for our homeland of Puerto Rico, who our people have continued to suffer due to local and federal government neglect with lack of aid after hurricane Maria, the numerous earthquakes that continue to happen and now COVID-19. May we continue to stay vigilant,” Flores added.
Flores discussed the loss the community has faced due to coronavirus.
“Too many people I grew up with in Sunset Park have passed away these last few weeks,” he said. “It’s now over 20 and I needed to stop counting because that reality is too depressing.”
For the past five years, the parade has paid tribute to several themes such as the devastation of Hurricane Maria, honoring an impressive 20 individuals as las Madrians and los Padrinos, and the political climate.
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