Exactly one year ago, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade was able to successfully overcome what, at first, seemed to be insurmountable challenges: no finances, no structure from which to build, and questions on whether it could continue to survive. What it did have was a newly constituted Board of Directors representing Boricuas from all sectors: Business, Community, Entrepreneurs, Media and Publicity, Non-Profit, Arts & Culture, Activists, Legal…¡casi todos! In a New York minute, a group of individuals that never worked together before quickly became a team, with a mission to restore and preserve this iconic institution and usher it into a new era.
From the inception, we on the Board had a clear, focused objective and a firm commitment to rebuild the Parade and address the concerns of our community. We promised to restore it to a prideful exhibition of our Puerto Rican culture and heritage.
Under the theme, “Un Pueblo, Muchas Voces”, our aim to advance our community, both in Puerto Rico and across the diaspora, was guided by three focus areas: Education, Arts and Culture. Within these areas, we shined a light on the contributions and assets that the Puerto Rican community has contributed to our global society. To promote education, we committed to restoring the college scholarship program for Puerto Rican Youth, and we strengthened the institutional foundation of the NPRDP, Inc. and to ensure its continuance for years to come. We are proud to say that we delivered on all, and to the last point – to strengthen the institutional foundation – we continue to address in order to ensure a vibrant future for our Parade.
Much was accomplished in just three short months, thanks to a ground swell of support from our community, corporate and media partners, our sponsors, as well as New York City and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Below are some key highlights:
- Increased the scholarship fund from $10,000 to $30,000 and tripled the number of scholarship awarded, from 5 to 15.
- Hosted a wonderful Educational Leadership Banquet where we celebrated 4 leading educators who contributed to the advancement of the Puerto Rican community through education.
- Reformatted the traditional beauty pageant into a Rising Stars Challenge, which became a second phase of the scholarship program to foster professional development and empowerment of the 15 scholarship winners.
- Revamped the 152nd Street Festival into a family-friendly celebration with over 10,000 attendees, with activities that included story telling, arts & crafts, face painting, health screenings, food, fabulous Salsa and Hip-Hop music, all in a fun and safe environment.
- Honored our legendary 165th Infantry Regiment, The Borinqueneers, who are now recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal.
- Paid tribute to the life and works of Puerto Rican poet, Julia de Burgos, during the 100th year since her birth.
- Called for the release of one of our Freedom Fighters, political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, joining the “Free Oscar López” movement.
- Celebrated a religious and spiritual service at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral with a record number of participants joining us in worship and thanksgiving.
- Honored 5 Puerto Rican leaders in Corporate America at the annual Gala fundraising event at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
- Hosted over 60 floats and nearly 20,000 marchers that participated in the parade, representing community groups and associations, corporate sponsors, media partners and elected officials from New York and Puerto Rico.
- Welcomed approximately 2 million spectators on Fifth Avenue to watch the Parade and participate in the celebration.
- Achieved Fox5 ratings that were nearly double those from 2013, and viewership for the 4-hour broadcast was up by 18%. Reached 150,000 total viewers with a total rating of 1.5 households.
To host these successful events, we raised over $815,000 in revenue by forging responsible and productive partnerships with 20+ sponsors, including JetBlue, Goya Foods, Banco Popular, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, McDonald’s, Macy’s, ConEdison, AT&T, City University of New York (CUNY), Univision, Telemundo, Meredith Corporation, Spanish Broadcasting System, New York Daily News, Impremedia’s El Diario, Metroplus Health Plan, SEIU/1099, Acacia Network, Bronx Lebanon Hospital and Sofrito Restaurant. We also had a cadre of hard working volunteers that offered their time and skills in producing the Parade and the series of events leading up to it.
It was an intense, laborious three months, but it was worthwhile to see the wonderful sight of millions of Puerto Rican flags along La Quinta Avenida. We were also grateful to have the shops and residents of Madison and Fifth Avenues, as well as those of 35 streets along the Parade route, welcome this grand celebration with open arms.
Sneak Peek at 2015
We raised the bar in 2014, and many in our community have expressed their gratitude and respect for our work in rescuing and restoring this iconic institution. But we resolve to make 2015 even better, further building upon our now solid foundation. This year, we will honor the Puerto Rican pueblo of Añasco, and we have secured the participation and support of A-list celebrity talent, who will join with dozens of marchers and delegations from the United States, Puerto Rico and abroad, in this exciting celebration. We will double the dollar figure awarded in scholarships, totaling $60,000 which will be awarded to 30 Puerto Rican students. We have finalized our calendar of events, as follows:
May 21: Educational Leadership Banquet (Venue TBD)
May 30: 152nd Street Festival, The Bronx
June 6: Rising Stars Challenge
June 7: Annual Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
June 12: Annual Gala Banquet, Marriott Marquis, Times Square
June 14: 58th Annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade
We are currently identifying the stateside community to be honored, and we are solidifying the key themes and major tributes for this year’s celebration. These and a full list of honorees will be announced in the months to come. In the meantime, mark your calendars to join us on La Quinta Avenida on Sunday, June 14!