Hampden County

Springfield, Holyoke honored at National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Springfield and Holyoke were honored at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City, Sunday.

More than 400 Puerto Rican community members from Springfield and Holyoke are back from New York City after representing their communities at the 2018 National Parade.

Each year, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade selects one pueblo in Puerto Rico and one stateside community to honor.

This year, both Springfield and Holyoke were recognized for their vibrant and growing Puerto Rican communities.

Springfield Parade Committee Chairman Hector Zavala said it was truly an amazing and humbling experience.

"We had over 400 marchers, I mean, there was thousands and thousands and thousands of Puerto Rican flags representing our Puerto Rican culture and it was just an amazing experience," said Zavala.

Holyoke City Councilor Gladys Lebron-Martinez said she brought Holyoke youth to march in the parade.

"To me, that's touching because them understanding the importance of us celebrating our heritage and our culture," said Lebron-Martinez.

And with more than 4,600 lives lost during Hurricane Maria, it meant even more to march in solidarity.

"Puerto Rico se levanta and Puerto Rico vive," said Adam Gomez, Springfield Ward 1 City Councilor.

This is the second time both communities have been recognized but the first time on a national level. 

"I feel proud to be Puerto Rican because no matter what, we fall but we never stay down," said Luz Palermo a Springfield resident.

This honor is especially significant said Gomez, as both communities welcomed hundreds of evacuees from the island.

Those who marched in the parade held banners and wore hats with the number 4,645 to show they will never forget the lives lost.
 


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