Camden Puerto Rican parade passes tradition to a new generation

Jashua Vargas from Camden takes part in the San Juan Bautista Parade and Festival on the Camden waterfront. The parade has been a tradition in the city for the 62 years. (Miguel Martinez/WHYY)

Jashua Vargas from Camden takes part in the San Juan Bautista Parade and Festival on the Camden waterfront. The parade has been a tradition in the city for the 62 years. (Miguel Martinez/WHYY)

The colors of the Puerto Rican flag decorated the streets of Camden on Sunday as the sound of salsa music brought people to their feet. For 62 years the San Juan Bautista Parade and Festival has attracted thousands of people from the region for a joyful celebration of family and culture.

“Seeing people dance and having fun makes me feel like I am part of a new family,” said Karinairy Delgado, 14, who with her mother traveled from Allentown to attend the parade for the first time.

The parade began at 3rd & Elm streets and made its way to Wiggins Waterfront Park where The Cintron Band y Tito Rojas performed. Marching bands, jeeps, clubs, floats, and even horses filled the streets.

President of the San Juan Bautista Parade, Wanda Garcia, emphasized the importance of teaching the younger generation to appreciate their culture. Garcia was born and raised in Camden. She has always participated in the parade and says it is time for younger generations to get involved.

“This event is like being reunited with your culture because here we all represent the same thing, being Puerto Rican,” said Samuel Sanchez, 19, and his sister Genesis Sanchez, 20, who moved here from Puerto Rico as children.

Camden’s waterfront has been the site for the San Juan Bautista Parade since the beginning but in recent years attendees have seen major changes in the city.  The construction of the first hotel in 50 years and the new American Water corporate headquarters and Camden Tower office building have altered the city’s skyline and waterfront. Last year, Subaru moved its headquarters to Camden and participated as a sponsor for this year’s parade.

“I think is so important for the companies that are moving in to Camden to show solidarity with the communities,” said Tania Sime from Subaru. The San Juan Bautista Parade hopes to gain more support from bigger corporations as they move into the city.

 

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