NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) – This year, bags of food and well-wishes were handed out at New Britain Stadium to kick off the Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend.

And this new location was significant.

“This year we decided, for the first time ever, to partner with a town in Greater Hartford and what better than New Britain,” says Brenda Marie, a consultant with the Connecticut Institute for Community Development Puerto Rican Parade Committee (CICD)

The parade is dedicated to the Hardware City because it has a large – and growing – number of Puerto Rican residents.

“So when we got the call and letter saying they were going to honor us, with a large portion of our population being of Hispanic descent, it means to world to a lot of our community,” says Mayor Erin Stewart.

“Usually we recognize a town from Puerto Rico and bring the mayor down here,” explains Sammy Vega, President of the CICD, noting that this year it was time to think local. “I’m grateful for New Britain and how it is. It’s a diverse city.”

Vega and Mayor Stewart both point out the area of Arch Street.

“We recently designated it our Barrio Latino, and it’s full of different Hispanic and Latino businesses that’s really starting to populate that neighborhood,” says Stewart.

It features businesses like Criollisimo Restaurant, one of the best-known Puerto Rican eateries in the state.

All of this pride will culminate on Sunday, as the community shows up to the parade and festival, a day full of food, family and heritage.

“It’s for the community. We have a real, rich culture and I welcome everyone,” says Vega.

“I think people are really really excited,” says Stewart.

The Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade is set for this Sunday.

News 8 is once again a proud sponsor. So come join the fun or watch our live broadcast of the parade right here on News 8, starting at 1 p.m.