Caravan celebrates Puerto Rican pride

June 16, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Caravan celebrates Puerto Rican pride
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Despite difficult times, their pride remains.

Although COVID-19 forced organizers to cancel Sunset Park’s annual Puerto Rican Day Parade, locals found a way to celebrate.

On Saturday, June 13, with the help of residents, a different kind of parade took place. A caravan of cars visited hospitals, senior centers and the homes of those who lost family members during the pandemic.

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“We came up with an idea of what we do during Christmas time, a parranda, which is like a choir you see during Christmas, where people go house to house,” said organizer Cynthia Felix. “[Organizer Danny Moran] decided we would go to the senior centers as well as to people that have lost a family member, just to bring joy to their lives.”

Photos courtesy of Cynthia Felix

The group provided Puerto Rican food and visited the seniors while following social distancing rules.

“They were grateful,” Felix said. ”They looked out their windows and smiled. It was a joyous occasion. It was important to acknowledge Puerto Rican culture but still be socially distant.”

Moran got a slew of volunteers to provide the cars.

“We also had a young gentleman whose family owns a bakery that does the distribution of Puerto Rican bread through the stores,” said Felix. “He gave up his time to provide it. It’s the type of bread that’s normally eaten in Puerto Rico, so people got a taste of home. Fortunately, we were able to get people to cook, get volunteers and get food to the hospital to thank the workers for what they do.”

The caravan made stops at Marien Heim Center, 4520 4th Ave.; Sunset Park Gardens Center, 405 44th St.; and Harbor Hill Center and  NYU FHC, 5613 2nd Ave.

Photos courtesy of Cynthia Felix

Assemblymember Felix Ortiz and Congressmember Nydia Velázquez accompanied the group on the route and at the park.

The parade honored Sunset Park residents Violetta Maya and Lucy Sanabria, as well as Gladys Morales and the Acevedo family, who have been significantly affected by the pandemic.

The 48th, 49th and 50th Street block associations were also lauded.

Felix said the seniors loved the kind gesture.

“We are trying to see if we can do something monthly for them or just provide music to bring them joy and smiles,” she said. “It has been so socially repressive with COVID-19. We are a very social community.”

Photos courtesy of Cynthia Felix

“We had a nice crowd and we also gave back to a lot of kids’ families,” said Moran.

The caravan was also organized by Dawud Gaston and Gloria Rodriguez.

Sunset Park resident and former detective Ray Acevedo said organizers honored his wife, a first responder who is still out sick.

“God bless their good will,” he said.

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