“I never expected it, so, my first response was, ‘Wow, I’m humbled and honored,” says Alvaro Cucuta, serving as the Grand Marshal of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
He’s celebrating his culture and his hometown.
“The way the Puerto Rican culture is, family is everything,” he says. “I was born and raised in the city of Hartford. We grew up in Frog Hollow and the South End.”
He remembers holiday parties – full of relatives and friends.
“Everyone always had food for us, we’d play instruments with any household item you had, spoons, forks, pots, pans and, actually, instruments: cowbells, bongos.”
As Deputy Fire Chief for the city of Hartford, he enjoys working with local youth.
“So, when they come to the firehouse, I make sure I invest the time and energy to try to lead by example and give them good mentorship,” he says.
Cucuta has spent twenty years in the department and began his career as a firefighter.
“This profession, it’s like no other, it’s a brotherhood, a sisterhood, your home away from home,” he explains. “The feeling you get, the satisfaction you get when you leave your shift, there’s no words that can describe the fulfillment that leaves inside you.”
This father of four teaches his kids about perseverance – a value he gleaned from the Puerto Rican people.
“Even though they’re struggling, that’s one thing you will always see in the Puerto Rican culture – you always find a way to smile and keep moving forward,” says Cucuta.
He can’t wait for the energy and vibrance of the parade.
“We know how to party and we party with a lot of love and hospitality and we embrace everyone,” says Cucuta who will fulfill his role with enormous amounts of pride. “Just to see the smiling faces of the kids, elderly folks and everyone in between yelling, waving that flag, it gives me goosebumps just talking about it right now. To me, this is a once in a lifetime event.”
News 8 begins live coverage of the parade at noon on Sunday
Click here for more information about the Puerto Rican Day Parade in Hartford.
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