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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Puerto Rico Week kicks off in New York City

Maj. Gen. Dr. Lester Martínez López

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico Week in New York City kicked off Sunday with the celebration of the Annual Mass of the National Puerto Rican Parade at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

“Apart from the significance of this day, for all of us Puerto Ricans, we are very proud and privileged to be able to be in the second largest church in North America only after the Guadalupano Sanctuary in Zamora, Mexico,” said Lillian Rodríguez López, who chairs the board of directors of the National Puerto Rican Parade. “Today we will remember important figures from the world of music, business, culture and civic life who died last year, but their legacy is with all of us.”

Miguel Guadalupe, vice president of the parade, noted that “[w]e are already in the final stretch of what will possibly be the best Puerto Rican parade in recent years.”

“Many people living in Puerto Rico began arriving early in the week to put the final touches on their floats, ‘comparsas’ and wardrobes that they will use next Sunday, June 11, on their tour of Fifth Avenue,” he said. “Our National Puerto Rican Parade, the nation’s largest Hispanic cultural event, is an activity awaited by the people of New York. Each year, more and more people continue to join with entities that will pay tribute to figures who have enriched Puerto Rican culture, contributing to its evolution through fine arts, cinema, literature and gastronomy. This year’s honorees are singer Armando Chucho Avellanet, singer Josie Guzmán, writer María Teresa “Tere” Marichal, music teacher Ángel Cucco Peña and award-winning painter Antonio Martorell. The Parade and its directors recognize in a special way this year the veteran public relations officer, Wilson Nazario, who has been working for our organization for 52 years uninterruptedly and who serves as the event’s credentialing officer, an office that certifies any journalist or communicator who wishes to cover the event.”

The parade organizers announced the designations for next Sunday: starting in the “Pioneer” category for Omi Hopper, chef, contestant in “Next Level Chef” and influencer in social networks; the Athlete of the Year will be Alelí Medina, the first para surfing gold medalist (visually impaired category); the ambassadors will be Dr. Antonio Mignucci, a biological oceanographer and veterinary technician; Dr. Ariel Orama, who has been awarded as a filmmaker, actor and clinical psychologist; Nilda María Comas, a sculptor and winner of multiple awards; and Ana Torres Toro who has stood out as a journalist and novelist.

As part of the Puerto Rican Week festivities in New York, many entities organize activities to receive dignitaries and delegations from Puerto Rico who mobilize to the Big Apple to participate in the events. On Thursday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams will host a reception for visitors at the mayor’s official residence, Gracie Mansion.

“At the end of the week, specifically on Friday during the morning and afternoon, the executives of the government of Puerto Rico, mayors, senators, representatives and leaders from the island will participate in a Conversation on Health organized by CROEM ALUMNI, with the participation of the assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense for health affairs of the United States Army, Dr. Lester Martínez López, with Puerto Rico Secretary of Health Dr. Carlos Mellado [López],” said Wanda Nazario, public relations coordinator of the event. “The Conversation, a continuing education activity, also brings together the executive director of the Traffic Safety Commission, Luis Rodríguez Díaz; ASSMCA Administrator Dr. Carlos Rodríguez Mateo; Puerto Rico Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago; Speaker of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez; Mayors Association President Luis Javier Hernández; Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce President Cameron McKenzie; entrepreneur Sheila Otero of the United Center of Retailers; ambulance services expert Asisris Rodríguez; CDC scientist Dr. Francisco Tomei; and the president of the organization Mujeristas (of the University of Dayton), Victoria Rivera, who will touch on the issue of the health needs and services faced by university students for the first time.”

On Friday evening, the Grand Gala Banquet of the National Puerto Rican Parade will be held, whose proceeds will be used for the successful scholarship program initiated by the former president of the parade, Lorraine Cortes Vázquez, who today serves as commissioner of the Office of Elderly Affairs of the City of New York.

On Saturday, the Puerto Rico delegation will participate in a reception organized by the 116 Festival committee and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New York at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, where the island delegation will present a recognition to businessman Nick Lugo, founder of the Festival de la 116 and the newspaper La Voz Hispana in New York. In the afternoon, the Delegation of Puerto Rico will mobilize to the Salsa Museum (The Spaha Salsa Gallery), where radio and television programs on salsa music originate.

On Sunday, all the island delegations will mobilize to Fifth Avenue from 11 a.m. to participate in the Puerto Rican National Parade, which has an estimated duration of five to six hours.

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