By Nelson A. Denis
The Puerto Rican Day Parade has a dark secret.
It has nothing to do with celebrities, rich corporations, or slick politicians.
It is a deep mystery, from the heart and history of Puerto Rico, which explains the whole parade.
Seventy years ago, Boricuas were given the worst jobs and housing in New York City. They were also beaten by their neighbors and the NYPD.
And yet in 1958, some brave Boricuas dared to hold a humble parade where they could march with pride, arm-in-arm, through the heart of Manhattan.
Mothers clapped their hands…to the bombas and plenas of their childhood.
Fathers schooled their children…explaining the floats dedicated to Puerto Rican towns known for sugar cane, tobacco, coffee, pineapples and plantains.
The Puerto Rican pride spread rapidly.
By 1966, the parade was already a “must do” event for politicians and celebrities.
Today, the parade is a celebrity spectacle with 2 million spectators, 100,000 marchers, and a stampede of corporate sponsors.
Rita Moreno, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Hillary Clinton and Mayor Bloomberg have all “starred” in it.
But even as “The Parade” has become one of the nation’s largest outdoor celebrations, there is a secret that few people suspect…
A secret that reaches into the heart of every Puerto Rican, without their even knowing it.
It is the secret of the Puerto Rican flag.
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