By Sonia Sharp
Special to DNAinfo
MIDTOWN — You’d be forgiven for missing Martha Calderon’s tiny blue, yellow and red flag amidst an ocean of brightly colored banderas lining Fifth Avenue Sunday afternoon.
Rolled up and tied like a ribbon around the brim of her straw hat, the tiny Colombian flag merely hinted at the pride she’d come to share at the 47th annual Hispanic Day Parade.
“We’re here celebrating our heritage,” said Calderon, 63, who moved to Astoria, Queens, more than two decades ago. “Here we have the opportunity to meet other people from our country and to show our pride in our roots.”
Calderon joined thousands of observers along Fifth Avenue between 44th and 67th Streets to watch the parade, which falls on the eve of Columbus Day, celebrated as Dia de la Raza by many in the Hispanic community.
Crowds cheered on marching bands and civic societies, pop stars and grade-schoolers paraded up the street in a glitzed-up version of traditional costumes, accompanied by pulse-pounding music.
“As soon as I walked out of the subway, I heard the music and I recognized it,” said Jose Rojas, who’d brought his family from Douglaston, Queens, to the Central Park Zoo. He said they were thrilled to catch the Peruvian dancers going by.
“I wasn’t expecting to see it,” he said.
For some, like Edith Castro, 28, who lives in Brooklyn but was born in Mexico, it was a chance to feel like a small part of a larger Latin whole. For others, like Kenneth Mendoza, 26, who hails from New Jersey but was decked out in Peruvian gear, it’s about standing out from the crowd.
“It’s the first year in a long time we actually got a chance to come,” said Mendoza said. “We had to represent, obviously. Once our float goes by, we’ll just go wild.”
For Calderon, the diversity of the observers, as much as the countries they represent, is what makes the parade a can’t-miss event.
“[New Yorkers] don’t look at this diversity,” she said. “Diversity is what makes the world beautiful.”