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Puerto Rican Day Parade Draws Revelers

By Tom Liddy | June 12, 2011 11:54am | Updated on June 13, 2011 7:11am

By Paul Lomax and Tom Liddy


MIDTOWN - Fifth Avenue was awash in red, white and blue Sunday for the city's Puerto Rican Day parade.

Throngs of New Yorkers packed the thoroughfare under partly cloudy skies for the 54th annual parade in the city, which also serves as the national parade.

"My boys are looking forward to their first Puerto Rican Day parade," said Jaran Manzanet Jr., of the Bronx.

He drove a 1929 Mercedes along with his beaming twin 10-year-old boys, down the parade route, which stretches from 44th to 79th streets.

The theme of this year's parade, which kicked off at 11 a.m., is "celebrating the natural beauty of Puerto Rico," to try to educate the community about preserving the natural beauty of the island.

It is also dedicated to the Puerto Rican towns of Cabo Rojo, which is celebrating its 240th anniversary and Patillas, which is 200 years old.

"I've been coming to this parade every year since 1960!" said Manuel Olivo, of Harlem, who was with his kids D'Laja, 10 and Tia'Jai, 4. "These are my people! My heart is with them and it's great to be here even though its only once a year."

The grand marshals of the parade are Robert and Carlos Unanue, who head up Goya foods.

Also on hand were pols like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Congressman Charlie Rangel.

Among the stars in attendance were comedian John Leguizamo, who was named global ambassador to the arts, baseball hall of famer Roberto Alomar, legendary salsa band El Gran Combo and folk singer Antonio Caban Vale.

In a twist, Leguizamo's father reportedly said that his son is not even Puerto Rican.

"My intention is to clear up this situation with my son John," said Alberto Leguizamo, according to Fox News Latino

"We are not Puerto Rican.  I was born in Colombia and don't have any family in Puerto Rico."

The "Ghetto Klown" funnyman has touted his roots in the island, saying that his father was from Aguadilla.

Congressman Charlie Rangel was on hand for the parade.
Congressman Charlie Rangel was on hand for the parade.
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Paul Lomax