Philly's Puerto Rican Day Parade celebrates heritage, honors hurricane victims

Attendees remember hurricane victims and turn focus on rebuilding efforts during the annual celebration 

Justin Udo
September 30, 2018 - 2:43 pm

KYWNewsradio/Justin Udo

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia's largest and most festive celebration of Puerto Rican pride and Latino heritage took over part of the city during the Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday.

Dancers, floats, and various groups made their way from 16th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to Logan Square to celebrate the more than 50-year-old tradition to the delight of hundreds of attendees.
 
Anthony Mendez and his group, Los Bomberos De la Calle, played the role of house band this year.

"It's all about unity, the community, and enjoying life the best we can," said Mendez. 

But this year the parade has a special meaning. Mendez, who is from Philadelphia, has several family members who currently live in Puerto Rico. He says the last year has been a tough one, as the island rebuilds after Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Harvey left entire communities in shambles and claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people.

"It's been really stressful, I don't get to see my grandmother like that, and it's hard to take trips out there."

This year's parade is dedicated to the rebirth of Puerto Rico, something Mendez hopes will happen more quickly.

"There are the enclosed parts of Puerto Rico that are still without light, without water and certain things like that.  I know a lot of them are still stressing out about what's going on.  It's hard," he said.

Organizers say the annual event attracts around 1,500 marchers, more than 5,000 attendees, and approximately 96,000 viewers who watch the parade live on television.