Flags, cheers, horn barks, motorcycle rides and music filled Pen Street when the 2nd Puerto Rican Day Parade took place on Sunday.
For a trio of friends, this event was an opportunity to connect with who they were and celebrate their culture.
About an hour before the parade started, Diamelis Santiago, an 18-year-old Reading Area Community College student, appeared at the corner of Force Street and Penn Street. She was with her friends Caitlin Lauer (19) and Brian Rodriguez (13). They wore shirts with the red-white and blue Puerto Rican flags.
“We are here to celebrate our presence in Puerto Rico,” Santiago said. “Celebrate and accept it. “
Santiago wrapped a flag around her as the crowd cheered the group on in a parade that showcased different aspects of the community. Prior to the parade, there were the Schuylkill County firefighters, a group of jeep enthusiasts, a motorcycle club, kids from the boxing hall and a junior ROTC at Reading High School. There were many more.
Reading communications coordinator Christian Crespo said the event coordinator expected an audience of around 15,000, but official attendance was only available on Monday.
The parade, led by Mayor Eddie Moran, the city’s first Latin mayor, began near Reading Area Community College and walked down Penn Street to City Park, where the Greater Reading Salsa Festival was held.
The event was announced by the Berks County Latin Chamber of Commerce, I-LEAD Inc. and LaMEGA, a Latino radio station in Allentown.
NS The first parade was held in 2019. The pandemic canceled the 2020 parade.
NS Reading’s Latino population grew by over 14,000 between 2010 and 2020. Latin Americans make up 69% of the city’s population. Latin Americans can be of any race, because the Census Bureau defines Hispanics or Latin Americans as ethnic rather than race.
In reading, the population growth According to the census, it was the fastest of the people born in Puerto Rico. From 2014 to 2018, the number of U.S. citizens welcomed from the Caribbean islands increased by approximately 2,300.