Puerto Rican Parade celebrates culture and serves as vehicle for community outreach
(Plain Press, September 2012) Thousands of people lined the parade route on Superior Avenue from E. 13th to E.9th Street and from E. 9th down to the Cleveland Municipal Parking Lot to watch Cleveland’s annual Puerto Rican Parade on Sunday, August 5th. The parade, presented by the Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center, marked its 44th year in Cleveland with colorful floats and decorated vehicles from community organizations, area politicians and local Latino businesses. Some of the highlights of the parade included floats and vehicles carrying beauty queens and their entourages and colorful floats with passengers aboard enjoying the festivities while waving to the crowd. Entertainers and local organizations, traveling in the parade, were many and varied such as the youth dance group Explosion Divina, whose Cleveland members train in Detroit, Michigan; the stilt walking group Los Hijos de la Tradición; and scholars from Esperanza holding signs promoting Achievement.
Besides the entertainment, celebration of Puerto Rican and Latino culture, the parade and festival at the Municipal Parking lot served as an organizing and recruitment tool. A karate class not only demonstrated their talent while participating in the parade, but also passed out fliers promoting their classes held at Calvary Reformed Church and Zone Recreation Center. A group called Latinos por Obama invited parade participants to a picnic at Roberto Clemente Park on W. 38th and Seymour.
Perhaps the most serious organizing was being done by a group of religious and human rights activists calling for the freeing of Oscar López Rivera who has spent 31 years behind bars as a result of his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico. Ricardo Jimenez was among those carrying the banner with the group. Jimenez says he served 20 years in federal prison for his role in the Puerto Rican independence movement. The group asked people to sign a petition urging President Barack Obama to grant Oscar López Rivera amnesty and passed out cards with some information about Rivera and website information (www.boricuahumanrights.org) for those who would like to learn even more about his plight.