Joanna Otero-Cruz, Deputy Managing Director,2019 Grand Marshall for the Puerto Rican Parade
Philadelphia celebrated its 57th Puerto Rican Day Parade aired live on 6ABC and Gary Barbera and His BarberaCares Programs Prowler rolled along the Ben Franklin Parkway to celebrate Puerto Rican culture once again. Gary Barbera is always honored to take part in this special celebration of Puerto Rican Culture and admired greatly this year’s theme voted by the community – Taino Warrior Within! paying respect to their island’s indigenous group, the Taino people. The Taino were almost taken out of existence due to war, slavery, and disease that threatened them after colonization by Europeans in the 1400’s.
Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate along the Ben Franklin Parkway and watch the parade. About 1500 individuals take part in the parade down the Parkway entertaining the crowds with floats, musical performances and colorful pageantry to pay homage to the Puerto Rican Culture. There were many student performers and groups competing for the judges and trophies.
The Gary Barbera Prowler, which has appeared in countless community parades including previous Puerto Rican Latino Culture Community Celebrations, was driven by Ms. Christina Guzman, CEG Performing Arts Academy. Christina Elena Guzman was titled Miss Philadelphia in 1999 and the first Latina to be crowned, and has built a life serving the community, when she met the Gary Barbera Cares Program. Gary Barbera and His Barbera Cares Programs have partnered with the Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship foundation, Miss Philadelphia Pageant and other pageant title holders such as Miss Bucks County and Miss Montgomery County to assist with transportation, scholarship funds, mutual community service and vehicles such as the infamous Gary Barbera Prowler for Parades.
The oldest Latino organization in Philadelphia, El Concilio hosts the parade.
According to the El Concilio website it was Founded in 1962, the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations of Philadelphia, Inc. (Concilio) and is the oldest Latino organization in Philadelphia. and has a well-established reputation as a leader for the Latino community family services. Concilio is registered as a non-profit, 501© 3 corporation organization. All of Concilio’s program services are free to the community.
Concilio provides critical human service programming to more than 9,000 individuals annually in Philadelphia, through programs such as foster care, adoption services, housing, youth development and after-school programming, and children’s immunization outreach for the City