By Cara Kenefick
Despite its name, the Connecticut Institute for Community Development’s Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival del Coqui are not just a celebration Puerto Rican culture in Connecticut. It is much more encompassing than that, and the festivities are meant to highlight what the state’s entire Latino community has to offer.
Being a Latino means different things to different people, even if they are from the same country, the same neighborhood, or even the same family. For some parade attendees, they said it is the tight-knit family bond. For others, it’s the food. Others still said the best part of their Latino heritage is knowing their lives have been based on the hard work of immigrant family members who came to the United States generations ago in search of a better life.
Living in Connecticut and being from Puerto Rico is the best of both worlds, according to Hartford resident David Marcano said. He said he is proud to be a Puerto Rican native, but at the same time, he “enjoys the privilege of being born in the United States and having the freedom to start a life here in the states.”
Matthew Hudson, who also attended the parade and identifies as both Puerto Rican and African-American, said one of his favorite parts about the Latino community is the support they have for one another. Hudson said that support is especially evident for Latino business owners. “They really help each other out,” he said.
Hartford has a strongly rooted Latino population, namely Puerto Ricans, but Latinos from other countries were kept in mind during the planning for the parade. For the first time, organizer Sammy Vega appointed two parade grand marshals, one from Puerto Rico, and one from another Hispanic country, to further the inclusion of all Latinos in the celebration.
The parade is a celebration of Connecticut’s diverse Latino population and gives its members a chance to reflect and remember why where they come from makes them so unique, but at the same time connected together as one community.
CTLatinoNews.com also asked parade attendees what their favorite part of their Latino heritage was. See their answers and other parade highlights in the gallery below. (Photos by Nicole Mason)