HARTFORD – Organizers are adapting the usual Puerto Rican Day Parade for a different time.
“We are replacing the parade this year with a caravan…it’s going to be different, not like before but we’re still going to continue promoting our culture,” explains Sammy Vega, President of the CICD. “When I say different, we’re still going to continue with music, salsa and food.”
The point of bringing this modified parade back to the streets of Hartford is to give the community some fun and excitement but it’s also to spread the message about the vaccine and to honor essential workers like healthcare heroes and teachers.
“It was like being in solitary sometimes,” says Shakira Perez who works with 8th and 12th graders at Classical Magnet School. She was named Hartford’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.
She says the challenges faced by students and educators during the pandemic were immense but she’s confident the landscape is positive moving forward.
“If we go hard in September when we return to normal school and we really get the children to invest in their education again, there will be no more learning loss, there will be learning opportunities,” says this member of the CICD-Puerto Rican Parade Committee. “I’m really proud of my culture, it’s a way for me to connect to my culture, to give back.”
The caravan will end with a celebration and vaccine clinic at Parkville Market, a beloved spot in the community. “Even the police officers, the firemen, they feel like this is a home,” says owner Carlos Mouta.
It’s all about finding connection after a time of isolation, giving kids and adults a chance to celebrate safely.
“Come outside get some Vitamin D and soak it all in,” laughs Perez.
Tune in Saturday as we celebrate The 2021 Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Day Caravan & Gathering: Thank you, Health & Essential Workers. It starts at 11:30 a.m. on News 8 and will also be streaming on WTNH.com.