HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The annual Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival del Coquí is returning on Sunday.
Gladys Rivera, the former president of the parade was selected to serve as the godmother of the event this year. Rivera has a deep connection to the Puerto Rican community in greater Hartford.
Rivera was recently featured in a new mural now on display at the intersection of Park and Cedar streets in Hartford. Rivera is pictured alongside her dear friend, Sammy Vega, who is also a former parade organizer, boxer and mentor to youth.
“The wings behind him are actually a symbol for his daughter Kassie who passed away a few years ago,” Rivera said with emotion, while glancing up at the artwork.
The mural celebrates Rivera’s involvement on the board of the Connecticut Puerto Rican Day Parade (CICD), which puts on the Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade and the subsequent Festival Del Coquí each year.
“It is amazing, it’s overwhelming, it’s also an honor. It is a full-circle moment. I actually lived in this building and grew up in this area when I was going to high school,” Rivera said.
The mural was created by artists Mercury and Lindaluz. The artwork includes symbols from Puerto Rican culture. The mural focused on the aspects of community and heritage pride.
The theme of this year’s Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade is unity.
The parade is going to be amazing, we usually get over 3,000 people to march.
As the godmother of the parade, Rivera will be able to stand back and watch the festivities as an homage to her decades of hard work.
“Soaking it all in. For a change I get to sit down and enjoy, which is a good thing.”
As for the mural – it’s been very well-received. Rivera feels it’s a celebration and validation of hard work a gift to a tight-knit community.
“Family and friends in our community have just embraced it and embraced us. We’re very proud of it and proud of what we’ve accomplished,” she said.
News 8 will live stream the Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival Del Coquí at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
News 8 is a proud media sponsor of the event. We hope to see you there!