The National Puerto Rican Day Parade in NY turned into its usual boisterous celebration Sunday, but many participants also saw it as an occasion to express their more somber concerns over the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
"This is a very important parade and a very meaningful parade given the tragedy and the devastation of the homeland", Louis Maldonado, National Puerto Rican Day Parade (NPRDP) Board Chair, said ahead of the march.
Whether Hurricane Maria killed a few dozen Americans or 4,600 after it slammed into Puerto Rico previous year, the US government's inefficient response should go down in history as a shameful episode that must not be repeated.
Saying that "the Island is still reeling from the storm and is expected to for several years", Senator Nellie Pou (D-Paterson) who has been active in several efforts to provide relief, and traveled to the island in February, encouraged evacuees to attend the session to acquaint themselves with resources "available to them here in New Jersey, whether they intend to make New Jersey their new permanent home, or return to Puerto Rico".
Parade-goers voiced frustration over an apparent under-reporting of the death toll in Puerto Rico and what they called a weak emergency response by President Trump's administration.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, were among the dignitaries on hand for the event.
Few Storm Chances For Monday
Beyond Wednesday , rain chances become minimal as high temperatures creep back into the 90s for the second half of the week. Temps today will be well below average along the coast this afternoon with the numbers holding in the low to mid 60s.
Julio Pabon led a group of demonstrators who chanted "Respect Puerto Rico" as it passed Trump Tower. The official federal death toll is at 64. "I'm just exhausted of the way my island has been treated". She said she's been coming to the parade since she was a toddler.
That help has continued and has, through the efforts of Paterson Partners with Puerto Rico, led to the donation of money and other supplies to help rebuild one of the many schools destroyed by the storm.
At least one parade participant, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., said the parade needs to take a political tone.
"The parade will be the same with the number of people it gets every year, but in the back of minds, a lot of them are going to be remembering all the lives lost". He and the group he was marching wore black T-shirts that reflect the Harvard study's estimate of the dead.
'They said, 'Great. We can work on our tans.' And I said, 'Not exactly.