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Communities gather to celebrate Puerto Rican traditions in Boricua Fest

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent

Photos courtesy of Richard Romero

LORAIN: Lorainites and even some Clevelanders turned out to the 12th annual Boricua Festival and 2nd annual Puerto Rican Parade, despite the rain and a reduced budget that resulted in scaled-back festivities, Aug. 7-8, 2009.

The festival that honors the Puerto Rican community—usually a three-day event—was reduced to two days. But the pageant and parade continued as planned.

“You work within your means,” said Juan A. Silva, president of the Puerto Rican Home Club, where the festival takes place. “I don’t want to bankrupt the club. At first I was going to cancel this year’s festival but volunteers stepped up,” he said.

A pageant and talent show opened this year’s festivities on Friday, where nine children and teenagers competed. All the children performed a merengue dance and the teenagers performed a bachata dance. They had been practicing the routines since June – dances that the older children helped choreograph, said Nidia Silva, in charge of the pageant and Juan’s wife.

“It’s very exciting for the kids,” said Nidia Silva, “the kids have a blast. They dance all night. It’s their day,” she said.

New to this year’s pageant were categories for boys.

But only six contenders could be chosen for prizes in the three categories of Mr. and Ms.Chiquitito, Princesa and Principe, and Reina and Rey.

Winners included: Ms. Chiquitita Alexis Tirado, 5; Princesa Mariya Molina, 12; Reina Xiomara Colón, 13; Mr. Chiquitito Xavier Velázquez, 7; Principe Dylan Silva, 10; and Rey Juan Luis Silva, 15.

They were chosen by the number of raffle tickets they were able to sell since March.

Each winner received $50, and a trophy. All girls received a tiara and the boys received a crown.

Ms. Amistad went to Tania Padilla, 5, because she won the most congeniality category, and received a plaque.

On Saturday, several young adults and teenagers from Cleveland entertained the crowd with reggaeton inside the Puerto Rican Home Club while attendees munched on typical Puerto Rican dishes of pastellilos, arroz con pernil, and even pinchos.

Raices Latinas dance group perfomed.

Despite some rain showers, roughly 150 people are estimated to have lined up the streets to watch the Puerto Rican parade Saturday that ran from 11:30a.m. until 1 p.m., said Diana Marrero-Pinto, director of Housing Services for the Lorain County Community Action Agency.

Puppets of roughly 12 feet tall in the image of Tito Puente, Roberto Clemente, and Julia de Burgos marched in the parade, along with vejigantes provided by Lorain’s El Centro, sport cars and motorcycles, while folkloric Puerto Rican music was played.

“We had the coolest parade,” said Marrero-Pinto; “we want the youth to be incorporated but we also want to honor those who have been (riding motorcycles) for so long,” she said.

Lorain Mayor Anthony Krasienko, other politicians and the fire department participated.

But Puerto Ricans this year had much more to celebrate as federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor, of Puerto Rican descent, was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

Lorain City Councilman Mitchell Fallis, who also marched in the parade, asked Marrero-Pinto about the excitement of the Puerto Rican community regarding Sotomayor, she said.

To which she replied “It’s an exciting time for us anytime a Latino reaches such heights, especially after watching how (the Republicans) tried to stall (her confirmation),” she said. Sotomayor “overcame so much and there was no stopping her,” said Marrero-Pinto, with family ties to Arecibo and Bayamón, Puerto Rico.

Marrero-Pinto said she was very happy with the Parade’s turnout.

“So many people lined up especially on Pearl Avenue,” Marrero-Pinto said “We worked so hard on this that we really appreciate to see so many people line up and cheer with their Puerto Rican flags,” she said.

To Marrero-Pinto the parade was complete.

“Puerto Ricans are synonymous with motorcycles, cars, singing and dancing and we had all of that at this parade,” Marrero-Pinto said “We are going to have the parade every second weekend of August and we were told we were the last parade of the summer in Lorain.

“Well, we want to end on a note that shows celebration and fun. We like to leave a good taste in your mouth with our food and a good song in your heart with our music,” she said.

For next year’s parade, Marrero-Pinto said they will have a regional Puerto Rican theme, allowing as many cities of Puerto Rico to be represented in separate floats.

Juan Silva said he was grateful to all who volunteered and allowed the festivities to continue this year.

Sponsors included CareSource, the Lorain National Bank, the Dollar Bank, and LCCC.

“A lot of people were upset because it wasn't a big event (as previous years),” Juan Silva said “but there was a lot of volunteers and even from Cleveland and especially the younger ones. They knew the budget wasn't there but they all did it from their heart,” he said.







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