Nearly Canceled, Historic Puerto Rican Day Parade Will Continue in Brentwood
Posted May 14, 2012 by Ted Hesson
For the past 45 years, the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Day Parade in Brentwood has served as a celebration of boricua and Latino heritage for all residents, Puerto Rican, Latino, or otherwise. But the parade was nearly canceled this year when its past sponsor, the the non-profit organization Adelante, couldn’t procure the necessary funding.
Enter Assemblymember Phil Ramos and the non-profit theater group Teatro Yerbabruja, who said at a press conference today that they’ll keep the parade alive and fundraise to support it.
Newsday’s Víctor Ramos reports:
“We had to save it,” said Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Central Islip), who helped organize the effort. “To the Puerto Rican community our identity is something very important and I think the parade goes to the heart of who we are.”
Close to 59,000 Puerto Ricans live in Suffolk County now as part of a Hispanic community of more than 246,000 people who trace their origins to various Latin American countries.
Adelante officials have said the event attracts more than 30,000 people on average, although an estimated 50,000 were said to have attended last summer.
The group announced last week that it could not afford the parade this year as it struggles to save other programs for youth and seniors as government grants and corporate donations decline.
Margarita Espada, a Central Islip resident who is director of the Yerbabruja group, said she will be heading the effort to keep the parade alive to showcase the best of Puerto Rican and other Hispanic heritage.
She was the main organizer of the Downtown Brentwood Community Arts Festival that took place last September.
“All we want is to take on the torch and continue the tradition, so that we can honor those pioneers who started this celebration,” Espada said. “We are going to be looking for sponsors, for people to come and march and for volunteers to help us.”
Although she did not raise objections to Yerbabruja putting on the event, Adelante director Miriam M. E. Garcia said her organization reserves the right to bring its parade back if it obtains sufficient funding for next year.
“Anybody can put on a parade, but we hope Adelante’s parade will continue,” Garcia said. “We are looking to start planning to make it bigger and better and to invite more ethnic groups.”
Margarita Espada, referenced here as the artistic director for Teatro Yerbabruja, is also a former organizer for Welcoming Long Island, an initiative of Long Island Wins.
Promise of $$ savings with new traffic bureau for Suffolk
Photo credit: John Dunn
The idea behind establishing a new Suffolk violations bureau is that the county would begin to collect on traffic summonses while the load in Suffolk courts is reduced. Assembly sponsor Phil Ramos (D-Central Islip) said it accounts for some 40 percent of caseloads now. The measure was sponsored in the Senate by Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley). It has been approved in both houses and awaits action by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The Ramos release:
In an effort to streamline government and save the county money, Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) announced that a bill he sponsored to establish a Traffic and Parking Violations Bureau (TPVB) in Suffolk County passed the Assembly (A.9539-C).
“Establishing a TPVB is an important step toward reducing the overload in Suffolk courts,” Assemblyman Ramos said. “The backlog created by the tremendous number of traffic and parking violations hit the poor the hardest by postponing their day in court. Creating a TPVB will speed up the judicial process and ensure that justice is quickly served.”
Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive said, “The Suffolk County Traffic Violations Bureau will improve efficiency and help balance the budget. The fact that Assemblyman Ramos has moved this legislation forward demonstrates that we have effective leaders who can get things done for Suffolk County.”
An agency of this type would serve to assist the district court in the administration and disposition of traffic and parking infractions and help to lessen the backlog of unanswered and unpaid traffic and parking summonses. It would also help reduce overcrowding issues, both in Suffolk courts and local jails.
According to a report by the Suffolk County Coordinating Council of Criminal Justice, 40 percent of cases handled by district courts relate to traffic tickets. As of last year, the delay in disposition of these matters was projected to increase from 12 months to at least 24 months.
“As backlog increases, Suffolk County jails fill up, straining congested local jails and costing the county millions of dollars,” Assemblyman Ramos said. “With Suffolk County’s deficit hovering around $530 million for 2013, making our courts more efficient will go a long way toward closing the gap.”