Prominent members of the community gathered at city hall for a small ceremony Aug. 6 to celebrate the City of Rochester’s 52nd Puerto Rican Festival and kickoff the parade.
Puerto Rican flags waved in the air, as individuals stood to listen as board members of The Rochester Puerto Rican Festival introduced individuals such as Eddie Matos, pastor at Esperanza Cristiana.
Matos encouraged members in the audience to cheer loud enough so “that it could be heard from across the river.” As he led the group in prayer, he asked God to watch over as individuals celebrate with the music and food of Latino culture.
Other speakers included Felix Montalvo, Rochester’s first Puerto Rican officer from 1970-96. In honor of his service and active involvement within the community, Montalvo was presented with the Father Tracy Advocacy award.
The ceremony concluded with a proclamation read partly in Spanish by Rochester Mayor Malik Evans, who is the first mayor in Rochester history to be able to speak fluent Spanish in addition to English.
“I think it’s important to celebrate the great diversity and tapestry that we have here in Rochester,” Evans told Toscin Magazine Aug. 6.
“For Rochester to have the second largest Puerto Rican population in New York State, I think is huge, we just have such a great rich culture here in Rochester and I’m so happy to be mayor of a city that represents this.”
Upon the conclusion of the ceremony, cars adorned with Puerto Rican flags followed officers and first responders who led the march down N. Fitzhugh, marking the commencement of the Puerto Rican Festival Parade.
Both parade attendees and participants danced to music which flooded the streets coming from various floats. Among those dancing bachata was first-time parade attendee, Edimar Rodríguez.
“It’s nice to have a little piece of the island here,” Rodríguez said as she continued to dance. She told Toscin Magazine she has not been to the festival since before the Coronavirus pandemic.
As the longest running cultural festival in Rochester, the Puerto Rican festival returned to the Frontier Stadium parking lot after the pandemic forced the event to be cancelled the summer of 2020. Last year the festival was held at two smaller locations during separate weekends to accommodate ongoing health concerns.
Multiple board members expressed their excitement, despite the work involved, to have the
event run again this year after its hiatus. The three-day event which opened Thursday features various daily musical acts, performances by the Rochester Latino Theater Group and a variety of foods and goods for sale.