Puerto ricoThe National Puerto Rican Day Parade returns after a two-year hiatus. Photo by Ricardo Dominguez

Stretching down several blocks of Fifth Avenue, vibrant parade floats will fill the streets once again this Sunday, celebrating Puerto Rico’s culture and legacy at the 65th National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The annual parade, which started in 1958, showcases the best of Puerto Rico and its impact on society – from the culture to the legacy of music and dance. During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, festivities pivoted to smaller processions and TV specials. Now, the national parade returns to unite nearly 8 million Puerto Ricans living across the United States and Puerto Rico.

Carlos Cortes, executive director of Chocobar Cortés. Photo provided by Karen Carzo

Carlos Cortes, executive director of Chocobar Cortes, a 92-year-old family-owned Puerto Rican and Dominican chocolate manufacturing company in Port Morris, said the event is more important than ever in a city that is rapidly changing, with fewer spaces for Puerto Ricans.

“It feels incredible to play a part in preserving our culture, celebrating our culture, but also evolving our culture…,” Cortes said. “I think what’s exciting about what we’re offering is that it’s a celebration of our culture and our past and our traditions, but it’s also evolving it and trying to present it for a new generation.”

As part of the celebration, Chocobar Cortes will offer traditional food and drinks from the Puerto Rican community. Featured items range from bistec encebollado with tostones and rice, a cube steak marinated with sofrito, vinegar, and onions cooked with their chocolate oil, to a traditional mofongo breakfast platter.

“La Borinqueña!” represents the colors of Puerto Rico’s flag. Photo by Chocobar Cortés

Celebrants could find themselves sipping a specialty cocktail, “La Borinqueña”, named after the Puerto Rican superheroine, that showcases the colors of Puerto Rico’s flag.

“[This time] is about celebrating our traditions and our past and everything that’s home for us, but also like, pushing it forward somehow or changing it a little bit or being creative and innovative,” Cortes said.

As a Puerto Rican business owner, Cortes feels the parade offers an opportunity to call attention to, and celebrate, Puerto Ricans’ impact on American society.

“Now more than ever, it is important to raise our voices and make sure they’re heard,” Cortes said. “Also remember, Puerto Rico’s influence isn’t just in music. It can also be food. It can also be education. It can also be entrepreneurship.”

The 65th Annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade will take place on Fifth Avenue from 43rd Street to 79th Street, beginning at 11 a.m. this Sunday.

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