Thousands pack Ben Franklin Pkwy. for Puerto Rican Day Parade

A little girl sits on her dad's shoulders, waving Puerto Rican flags in both hands.

People spanning many generations came out to display their Puerto Rican pride and heritage on Sep. 25, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

More than a thousand people marched down Benjamin Franklin Parkway during the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday, less than two weeks after Hurricane Fiona brought widespread devastation to Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean.

The theme of this year’s event was “The Puerto Rican Dreamers,” recognizing the achievements made by Puerto Ricans to inspire the youth and instill a sense of pride and self-worth.

A woman holds up a Puerto Rican flag.
More than a thousand people packed the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sep. 25, 2022 to celebrate “The Puerto Rican Dreamers” during the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

In the back of everyone’s minds was the slow-moving Category 1 hurricane that hit the island just weeks ago. High winds and torrential rain destroyed homes, roads, and bridges, leaving entire communities without power and clean water. Some parts of the island received more than two feet of rain during the storm.

Victor Urbaez attended Sunday’s parade. He said he wanted to celebrate not only the culture, but to bring attention to the struggles the island is currently facing.

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“The infrastructure is lacking,” Urbaez said. “Hundreds of millions and billions of dollars that haven’t been used for Hurricane Maria, that has led to what we’re seeing now where hundreds of thousands don’t have running water. We’re still a colony of the United States, and a lot of us on the island are asking for independence and having control over our resources and control over our lands.”

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Jennese Torres also attended the parade and said while Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, the struggles of the Puerto Rican people are not viewed as an American issue.

“I don’t think they see us as American,” Torres said. “They completely ignore us and we came out here to the parade today because in Puerto Rico, they are protesting every day to get LUMA out of PR so that they can have an infrastructure of electricity that actually works. So, I figure if they can come out every day to protest, we can come to the parade.”

The organization Concilio organized the parade and accepted donations to go towards humanitarian aid for Puerto Rico. Taller Puertorriqueño is also accepting donations to help community-based organizations in Puerto Rico.

Click here to check out more organizations accepting donations.

As of 2018, 59% of the city’s Latino residents were of Puerto Rican descent. Philadelphia now has the second-largest stateside Puerto Rican population of any U.S. city, after New York City.

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