Contact: Colleen Roche (212) 788-2958 or Samantha I. Lugo (212) 788-9364
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today helped the Puerto Rican community kick off the annual, week-long celebration of its heritage, and declared the week of June 7th to June 14th as Puerto Rican Week in New York.
"I am pleased to welcome the National Puerto Rican Parade Committee to City Hall," the Mayor said. "This week's events and the traditional Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday, give us all a chance not only to celebrate Puerto Rican heritage but also the vibrant and central role Puerto Rican-New Yorkers play in the City today."
"It is almost impossible to imagine New York City without its Puerto Rican flavor and influence. New York is home to the largest Puerto Rican population of any city in the world outside the island. The City's status as the Northern center for Spanish-Speaking business and culture is in large part based upon the bedrock contributions of the Puerto Rican people. The values of family and faith, hard work and celebration which are characteristic of the Puerto Rican community, place it firmly within the narrative of all New York City immigration stories," the Mayor added.
Joining the Mayor were Deputy Mayor, Ninfa Segarra; National Puerto Rican Day Parade President, Ramón S. Vélez; Victoria Muñoz, daughter of Puerto Rican political legend Luis Muñoz Marín; Herman Badillo, Senior Mayoral Advisor on Education; Marta Istomin de Casals, President of the Manhattan School of Music and 1998's National Grand Marshall; Melissa Quesada, 1998 Parade Queen; Yesenia Filomeno, 1998 Junior Parade Queen; Kiara Laz Rivera, 1998 Baby Parade Queen; other elected officials, members of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Committee; and distinguished members of the Puerto Rican community.
Ninfa Segarra, Deputy Mayor of the City of New York, said, "As a Puerto Rican woman born and raised in New York City, and as the highest ranking Latina in our City's government, it gives me great pleasure to join the Mayor in giving a warm welcome to all Puerto Ricans throughout the United States as we march up Fifth Avenue to celebrate our history and culture. This week, all New Yorkers can revel in that special magic which makes our community a unique part of the City of New York."
Ramon S. Vélez said, "I am honored to lead the National Puerto Rican Day Parade for another year. As always, the parade will be headed by the 1,500 New York public school children the Parade Committee adopts every year to provide with education and services. They are a symbol of our commitment to the future generations, who will carry our cultural pride and heritage and will represent us with energy and hope in the years to come. We are proud to march down Fifth Avenue one more year, honoring the contributions of our families, and our leaders to our City and the Nation. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Mayor Giuliani for his continuos support for the Parade's objectives and our community's needs."
The 1998 National Puerto Rican Day Parade will be held on Sunday, June 14th on Fifth Avenue. This year the Parade honors Luis Muñoz Marín, architect of the Puerto Rican Commonwealth's Constitution.