Special tributes will go to the legendary cellist, Maestro Pablo Casals, and pioneering librarian, Pura Belpre
The Ricky Martin Foundation to be recognized for its groundbreaking work to fight human trafficking
April 30, 2019, San Juan, PR – At a press conference held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade (NPRDP) Board of Directors made additional announcements regarding its plans for the 62nd Annual celebration, including key themes, tributes and an initial list of honorees. Under the theme, “One People, Many Voices,” the Parade will continue celebrating the best of Puerto Rican art, culture and history, while also highlighting special causes and initiatives to foster economic development and help rebuild Puerto Rico in the post-Hurricane Maria era.
As part of this year’s celebration, the NPRDP will honor two legendary singer/songwriters who have celebrated and helped shape the repertoire of Puerto Rican music for decades. As part of this year’s celebration, the NPRDP will honor the internationally acclaimed 9-time GRAMMY award winner, José Feliciano with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Feliciano’s music has impacted global culture, with songs like “Feliz Navidad” becoming ranked among the top American holiday classics. Also honored for Lifetime Achievement is Alberto Carrión, composer of “Amanecer Borincano,” considered by many as a second national hymn in Puerto Rico. This past September 20, Mr. Carrión led the chorus of the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey, performing this iconic song to memorialize the one-year anniversary of Hurricane María’s landfall in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Also honored for Lifetime Achievement is Puerto Rico’s “television sweetheart”, Dagmar Rivera, whose distinguished career has spanned four decades and impacted pop culture and entertainment on the Island. Recently, Telemundo dedicated their 65th Anniversary Celebration to Ms. Rivera, in recognition of her prolific and successful career.
The 2019 NPRDP Madrina (Godmother) title goes to Latin GRAMMY Award winning artist, La India. Born in Rio Piedras, PR, and known as “La Princesa de la Salsa,” La India is credited with top dance hits that span musical genres including Freestyle, Hip-Hop and Reggaetón. She is best known for her Salsa classics, including Billboard hit “Dicen que soy” and “Vivir lo nuestro,” a duet sung with Marc Anthony. Her contributions to Puerto Rican and Latin music continue to this day, starring in the international tour of the theatrical production, Forever Tango, in 2019.
Joining this year’s honorees is former Major League Baseball legend and newly elected National Baseball Hall of Fame 2019 member, Edgar Martínez, the 2019 NPRDP All-Star Athlete. Edgar had an impressive career that spanned 18 years with the Seattle Mariners. He is recognized as one of only nine players in Major League history to record at least 300 home runs, 500 double and 1,000 walks while posting a career batting average over .300 and a career on-base percentage over .400.
Taking on the Issue of Human Trafficking
Each year, the Parade Board of Directors selects a cause or issue of importance to the Puerto Rican community to help create awareness and identify solutions. This year, the NPRDP will raise awareness on the issue of human trafficking by honoring the Ricky Martin Foundation for its work to denounce human trafficking and for its research and community initiatives to educate about its existence.
Human trafficking is one of the most lucrative crimes in the world, impacting an estimated 49.8 million people around the world. Through its research, the Ricky Martin Foundation is working to shine a spotlight on the existence of this crime and its impact on Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
A Tribute to Pablo Casals and Puerto Rico’s Legacy in Classical Music
One of the key tributes celebrated by the NPRDP in 2019 will be celebrating the life’s work of the legendary cellist, composer and conductor, Pablo Casals. Born in Catalonia, Spain of a Puerto Rican mother, Casals was known as one of the greatest cellists of his time. He relocated to Puerto Rico, where he established the Casals Festival, in 1955, which continues to be one of the world’s pre-eminent classical music festivals to this day. He later founded the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, in 1958 and 1959, respectively. Casals was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by John F. Kennedy, in 1963. The Puerto Rico Symphony and Conservatory of Music are celebrating 60 years of continuing Pablo Casal’s legacy by celebrating Puerto Rico’s contribution to classical music and the performing arts, and each institution is being honored in the 2019 Parade.
Also present were the Maestro Maximiano Valdés, Musical Director for the Puerto Rico Symphony, Islaím Rodríguez, Assistant Director for the Corporation for Musical Arts and Jessabet Vivas Capó, Director for Cultural Promotion. In a note received from Carlos Ruiz, he expressed, “For the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña and La Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico, it is an honor to participate for the first time in direct collaboration with the renown
ed organization of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Mr. Carlos R. Ruiz, Executive Director of the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, La Corporación de las Artes Musicales and La Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico. Our Puerto Rican sentiment transcends geographic boundaries, and it is our goal to create strong ties of fraternity and collaboration with our fellow Puerto Ricans residing in the United States. Regardless of where we find ourselves, Puerto Rico will always be felt as one heart.”
As part of the tribute to Puerto Rico’s contributions to the Classical Music and Performing Arts, the NPRDP will honor world-renowned, GRAMMY award-winning soprano and opera singer, Ana María Martínez as Orgullo Puertorriqueño. Born in San Juan and considered to be one of today’s foremost sopranos, Martínez graduated from the Juilliard School of Music and went on to perform with the world’s most elite opera companies, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera Chicago. She regularly performs with the Houston Grand Opera, where she is currently serving as Artistic Advisor. Even with her global fame, Ms. Martínez performs regularly in Puerto Rico, with appearances at the Casals Festival and engagements with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra; including a standing ovation at their 60th Anniversary Gala Concert, in November 2018.
Honoring Educators and Librarians
The NPRDP is committed to promoting the pursuit of education through its scholarship program, as well as by recognizing individuals and organizations that have positively impacted the Puerto Rican community in this regard. In 2019, the NPRDP will pay tribute to the posthumous honoree, Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Library system. Born in Cidra, Puerto Rico, Pura Belpré was an advocate for the Puerto Rican community of Spanish Harlem. She instituted a bilingual storytelling program for the youth of El Barrio, to continue connecting them with their heritage while improving their English skills. Her groundbreaking work transformed the 115th Street Branch into a cultural center for New York’s Latino Community.
In 2019, the NPRDP is also recognizing the Flamboyán Foundation, whose mission is to implement sustainable solutions so children most impacted by inequity are able to thrive. Founded by Kristin Ehrgood and Vadim Nikitine, and guided by the belief that all children deserve the opportunity to live a fulfilling life, the Flamboyán Foundation works to ensure students most impacted by inequity are prepared to succeed in school and beyond.
The NPRDP honors educators, administrators, academics and other leaders whose life’s work has been dedicated to promoting the education of Puerto Rican and Latino students at the Education Leadership Awards. One of this year’s Education Leadership Honorees is Ana María García Blanco, PhD, Founder & Executive Director at Instituto Nueva Escuela. Ms. García Blanco’s award-winning work is recognized for having transformed the development of the Montessori Method in Puerto Rico. Also recognized as an Education Leadership Honoree is Jeannette Valdés Morales, an educator with expertise in Special Education and coach on Puerto Rico’s Special Olympics team.
For a third consecutive year, the Parade will award 100 scholarships to exceptional high school seniors and college freshmen, sophomores and juniors of Puerto Rican descent. Each scholarship is in the amount of $2,000 for a total pool of $200,000, a 20-fold increase since 2013. This year’s applicants represent over 20 states and Puerto Rico. Scholarship recipients will be announced at the Education Leadership Awards on May 25, in New York City.
Promoting Economic Development
In 2018, the NPRDP paid tribute to several organizations that were helping with the recovery from Hurricane Maria. The Parade continues that work this year by also recognizing organizations whose work promotes economic development on the Island. As part of this initiative, NPRDP recognizes Discover Puerto Rico, a newly established private, not for-profit Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) whose mission is to make Puerto Rico visible to the world as a premier travel destination. With the aim of bringing prosperity to the people of Puerto Rico, Discover Puerto Rico promotes the Island’s diversity and uniqueness for leisure and business travel, as well as events. Discover Puerto Rico will have a key role at the NPRDP Gala Fundraiser and at the June 9 Parade on Fifth Avenue.
A Special Recognition for Sports Legends and Rising Stars
The 2019 Parade celebration will honor Puerto Rican athletes that have left their mark on sports history, including legends and rising stars. The NPRDP will honor the legendary 1979 Puerto Rican National Basketball Team that competed against the United States team for the gold medal at the thirteenth Pan-American Games, that year. 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of this historic match-up, and to celebrate this milestone the NPRDP recognizes the film, Nuyorican Básquet, a documentary that tells the dramatic story of this historic moment. Puerto Rico’s 1979 National Basketball Team was comprised of players that were mainly born and/or raised in New York, the film showcases the contributions of Puerto Ricans from the diaspora and the achievements that can be realized when our collective community unites as one.
The NPRDP will also honor the 61 athletes that comprised Team Puerto Rico at the 2019 Special Olympics, held earlier this year in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. These impressive athletes competed across 10 sports earning 55 medals for Puerto Rico, including 16 gold, 17 silver and 22 bronze medals. Team Puerto Rico is an excellent example of Puerto Rican resilience and pursuit of excellence as the Island recovered from the devastating effects of Hurricane María.
Additional Honorees for 2019
In addition to the honorees mentioned above, the NPRDP is proud to announce the following individuals that will also be honored in the 2019 celebration:
- Special Recognition – Raúl Ayala – artisan and creator of vejigante masks, from Loíza
- Special Recognition – Samuel Lind Hernández: Painter and sculptor from Loíza
- Special Recognition – Daniel Lind Ramos: Painter and visual artist from Loíza
- Special Recognition – William Cepeda: Composer and trombonist from Loíza
- Ambassador – Jorge Laboy: Prominent guitarist in genres of Jazz and Pop music
- Ambassador – Nicole Chacón: Journalist, TV host and lifestyle influencer
- Ambassador – Christian Nieves: Internationally recognized cuatrista
- Rising Star – Dalila Zapata Hernández, a model with Down Syndrome
- Gala Honoree – Noel Quiñones: Emmy Award-winning screenwriter, film director, producer creator of the “Uno a uno” mentorship program
- Gala Honoree – Hewlett Packard Aguadilla – Nilda Prieto and colleagues that have provided mentorship through the “Uno a uno” mentorship program
At the annual mass to be celebrated at The Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in New York, on June 2, the NPRDP will give special posthumous recognition to the following distinguished Puerto
Ricans who have passed in the last year:
- Keyla Hernández – Journalist and television presenter from WAPA TV, native of Mayagüez.
- Héctor Ferrer – Politician and lawyer who served as representative of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico. President of the Partido Popular Democrático of PR, a native of San Juan.
- Marta Font González – Political analyst, former candidate of Resident Commissioner in Washington and former candidate of the Senate of Puerto Rico by the Independentist Party, native of Santurce.
- Sara Villamil– Prominent entrepreneur, philanthropist, patron of the arts, member of the board of Banco de Fomento, member of the board of Banco Santander, born in Havana and considered an adoptive daughter of Puerto Rico.
- José Fufi Santori Coll – Player, basketball coach and sports television commentator, native of San Juan.
- Honorable Gabriel Santos López – Mayor of Loíza for 20 years, native of Loíza.
- Héctor “Hetín” Reyes – Player of the National Superior Basketball, agent and leader of the Vaqueros de Bayamón and former president of the Basketball Federation of Puerto Rico, native of Bayamón.
- Petra Cepeda Brenes – Artisan, folklorist, dancer, declaimer, bombera and bolerista. Exponent and ambassador of the Bomba y Plena of Puerto Rico, native of Carolina.
- Antonio Barasorda – Tenor with trajectory and international recognition, stage director, producer and professor, native of San Juan.
- Samuel Molina – Actor, playwright, poet, declaimer and librettist, native of Lares.
- Roberto Angleró – Songwriter, composer and musical director, native of Fajardo.
- José Juan Piñero González “Pijuán” – Pianist, composer, producer and musical director, native of Trujillo Alto.
- Arnaldo Roche Rabell – Contemporary painter and one of the main exponents of figurative neo-expressionism, native of Santurce.
- Myrna Baéz – Painter, engraver, sculptor and professor of modern art of Puerto Rico, native of Santurce.
- Aníbal González Irizarry – Journalist, professor and host of Telemundo’s Telenoticias news, native of Sabana Grande.
- Mayra Mayra – Singer of the merengue genre, native of San Sebastián.
- Iván Batista – Prominent fashion photographer, native of Santurce.
- Baltasar Corrada del Río – Puerto Rico Supreme Court Judge, Secretary of State, Resident Commissioner in Washington, candidate for Governor and Mayor of San Juan, native of Morovis.
- Carlos Gallisá – Lawyer, political analyst, Representative of the House of Representatives, politician and independence leader, native of San Juan.
Earlier this month, the NPRDP announced that the Parade is dedicated to the municipality of Loíza, in Puerto Rico, which is celebrating the tricentennial of its founding, in 2019. Joining Loíza in this year’s dedications is the Puerto Rican community in Houston, Texas, selected as this year’s Honored Stateside Community. Juan Antonio “Chi Chi” Rodrígez will receive the Lifetime Achievement in Sports recognition. An 8-time PGA champion and the first Puerto Rican to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. In support of the NPRDP Scholarship Program, Mr. Rodriguez will attend the 2019 NPRDP Chi Chi Rodríguez Golf Outing on Thursday, May 9 at Pelham Bay Golf Course, the Bronx.
The 2019 National Puerto Rican Day Parade will take place on New York City’s Fifth Avenue from E 43rd Street to E 79th St, Sunday June 9, starting at 11am. The celebration will be broadcast live on WABC-TV (Channel 7 in NYC) and streamed online at www.abc7ny.com. The television broadcast will begin at 12pm through 4p
m. For more information about the Parade and the NPRDP Scholarship Program, visit www.nprdpinc.org.
2019 NATIONAL PUERTO RICAN DAY PARADE: CALENDAR OF EVENTS
- Golf Outing Fundraiser– May 9
- Education Leadership Awards and Scholarship Presentation – May 23
- 152nd Street Cultural Festival – May 25
- Mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral – June 2
- NPRDP Scholarship Fundraiser Gala – June 7
- National Puerto Rican Day Parade – June 9