“Unidos Progresamos,” or “United We Progress,” will be the theme for this year’s Springfield Puerto Rican Parade.
“It means when one person in the community does well, we all do well,” said parade committee member Jade Rivera McFarlin during this week’s celebration of the parade’s upcoming return in September.
Like other groups that have seen their events go virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Puerto Rican Parade Committee is looking forward to hitting the streets of the city on September 18.
“While being virtual has kept the spirit alive, there’s something about the smiling faces, the flags waving in the air and the energy,” Rivera-McFarlin said.
The committee met Wednesday at the Palate Restaurant to recognize the honorees and officially introduce Sen. Adam Gomez, D-Springfield, as this year’s grand marshal.
The theme, Rivera-McFarlin told the Republican, symbolizes more than just walking down the longest parade route; it also showcases and honors the Puerto Rican community, whose members have long been established in the North End neighborhood and carry that spirit to the heart of downtown Springfield.
At the launch event, city officials and community members networked with past and current committee members, invigorated new supporters, encouraged to become sponsors, and effervescent attendance at this year’s event.
The parade committee honored a number of honorees, including Police Commissioner Madeline Fernandez, who received the Public Service Ambassador Award. Gandara Center and Tapestry Health Center both received Community Organization Ambassador Awards, and Rosa Espinosa, Director of Family Services at the New North Citizens’ Council, was honored as Madrina of the Puerto Rican Parade 2022 .
Two years ago, when the parade’s 30th anniversary was marked, pandemic restrictions forced the parade to go virtual. Last year, the parade again had to delay an in-person celebration.
With coronavirus concerns reduced, but still present, the Parade Committee asks everyone attending the 32nd annual event to be socially conscious and courteous. The parade will leave at 11 a.m. and the committee hopes that there will be spectators in the streets like never before.
“The community is elated,” said Victoria Ann Rodriguez, chair of the parade committee. “After the event (Fiestas Patronales de Holyoke) that took place last week in Holyoke, we are especially looking forward to September 18.”
State Representative Carlos González, D-Springfield, noted that the parade will culminate activities planned for what he says will be the first celebration of Puerto Rican Week for the city.
Springfield Puerto Rican Parade’s mission is to celebrate and raise awareness of culture and to honor community contributions.
“It’s about what we brought to the city, the businesses, the teachers, the food, the music,” González said. “We are part of the economic fabric, and if we fold, the city of Springfield folds. Saying you are Puerto Rican is a powerful statement and commitment. It is to understand the fate of a people.
Springfield 2022 Puerto Rican Parade Launch Reception
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno agreed, saying, “The Puerto Rican community has contributed so much to our Springfield, the Commonwealth and the nation, especially in business, education, medicine, public safety, public service. public and the armed forces of the United States.
Parade co-chair Kelvin Molina-Brantley said the board, based on 501c3 nonprofit status last year, was able to secure grants and funding of up to $120,000. .
The council is still accepting applications for marching contingents, sponsors and volunteers. Interested persons can download applications from the website, springfieldprparade.wixsite.com/massand submit via email to [email protected], Rivera-McFarlin said.
The first 75 volunteers, the council said, would receive limited-edition commemorative t-shirts, free lunches and gift cards.