The National Puerto Rican Day Parade in NY turned into its usual boisterous celebration Sunday, but many participants also saw it as an occasion to express their more somber concerns over the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
Julio Pabon led a group of demonstrators who chanted "Respect Puerto Rico" as it passed Trump Tower.
The disgust with Trump was channeled into vocal demonstrations of Puerto Rican pride, strength, and resilience-"Puerto Rico Se Levanta" was a common refrain-as revelers on the jam-packed sidewalks spent hours waving flags, cheering block after block of marchers, and joyfully singing along to whatever song was blasting from passing floats. "I'm just exhausted of the way my island has been treated".
But this year, organizers and participants also want people to remember that months after Hurricane Maria roared through, Puerto Rico is still struggling.
"As law enforcement officials we're used to coming to someone's aid at their greatest time of need", stated Alex Cruz, President, PBA Local 1 at the time.
The event, which will feature an appearance from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), will take place on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Cuomo has been an outspoken proponent of the need to help Puerto Rico after the September storm.
The initial deployment of 100 students from SUNY and CUNY schools and almost 20 skilled labor volunteers will stay for two weeks and will assist non-profit rebuilding organizations on the island. The governor said he had already broken the news to his children that he's taking them to Puerto Rico this summer.
Saying that "the Island is still reeling from the storm and is expected to for several years", Senator Nellie Pou (D-Paterson) who has been active in several efforts to provide relief, and traveled to the island in February, encouraged evacuees to attend the session to acquaint themselves with resources "available to them here in New Jersey, whether they intend to make New Jersey their new permanent home, or return to Puerto Rico".
This year's parade comes a year after a controversial one, when the parade organization's decision to recognize Oscar Lopez Rivera, a former member of a militant group responsible for a series of bombings.
Trump last week attended a meeting on disaster preparedness at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.
Others dressed in black, mourning the people who died during Hurricane Maria as well as to protest the lack of support Puerto Rico received.