NEW YORK – New York’s colorful Hispanic Parade celebrated on Sunday the 150th anniversary of La Nacional, the institution that welcomed thousands of Spanish immigrants to the Big Apple at the turn of the 20th century and beyond.
Thousands of Spanish-speaking participants took to the streets to proudly display a wide array of traditional dances along Fifth Avenue, which each year welcomes myriads of participants and tourists seeking to celebrate their Hispanic heritage.
The parade followed a performance by the New York City Police Band, with Spain taking the lead with a festival of traditional music, featuring windpipes and castanets, along with flamenco dancers and the traditional garb of the Cantabria and Galicia regions, among others.
The La Nacional float was the first to appear on the scene, representing the only surviving landmark of what once was New York’s Little Spain, located along 14th street, now known as Chelsea.
For decades, La Nacional provided shelter, food, work and health assistance to Spanish immigrants who chose to make New York their home, with most of the newcomers arriving after the Spanish Civil War.
“The parade stands for something very special to us this year,” the event’s coordinator, Pepe Navajas, told EFE. “It is our 150th anniversary. It is New York’s oldest cultural institution.”
An assortment of Spanish greats, such as artists Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, made themselves felt in some way, as were playwright Federico Garcia Lorca and guitarist Paco de Lucia, represented in portraits painted by artist Curro Leyton.
“I painted the portraits of four famous people who visited La Nacional,” said Leyton, who participated in the parade for the third time, citing Dali, Picasso, de Lucia and Garcia Lorca as examples.
Bolivia took the show once again, with its colorful array of traditional costumes from throughout and a variety of folk dances.