ROCHESTER – Elizabeth Conde said she was filled with pride and felt chills upon seeing all the floats and spectators lining East Main Street for Rochester’s sixth-annual Puerto Rican parade.
"To see all the flags, it’s unbelievable," she said, especially given that she knew so few Hispanics when she first came to Rochester from Cayez, Puerto Rico, 30 years ago.
Conde stood alongside her daughter, Jennifer Conde, and her 3-year-old granddaughter, Jayanara Rivera, who was dressed in a tropical green dress and gold gladiator-style sandals. They were among the hundreds of people who stood along the parade route, which began at the Liberty Pole, continued along East Main Street to Plymouth Avenue and finished at the Puerto Rican Festival site at Frontier Field.
Father Laurence Tracy, a longtime advocate for the Hispanic community, served as the parade’s grand marshal this year.
"He’s not only a leader but an advocate … and has been such an amazing help to the Latino community," said Elizabeth Davila, president of the parade committee. Davila and the committee presented Father Tracy with a plaque, a Puerto Rican flag sash and an official parade shirt.
"This is not only a great personal honor but it’s recognition of the many people in the past 35 years that I’ve worked with … that have made the Puerto Rican community a better place to live," said Father Tracy, who donned a T-shirt that said, "Puerto Rico de corazón."
Sandra Rosado said this year’s parade featured more than 20 floats, many of them representing such Puerto Rico towns as San Juan, Ponce, Bayamon, Arroyo and Cayez.
Seeing such vibrancy and activity downtown brought back good memories for Wayne Berry of Rochester.
"This is good for the city, bringing people out," he added. "It’s good to see kids and elderly together. And we used to have parades like this all the time. … We need to bring the community back downtown."