Annual festival, parade celebrate youths

ROCHESTER — Celebrating youths will be the theme for the 45th-annual Puerto Rican Festival and the 10th-annual Puerto Rican Parade to be held at the beginning of August.

The festival will be held at the VIP lot of Frontier Field from Aug. 1-3, and the parade will march through downtown on Aug. 2.

"This year, we (festival and parade officials) wanted to do a similar theme," said Orlando Ortiz, the festival president. "With all the problems we’ve had with violence and youth, also with drop-out rate in high school, we wanted to give them a little more attention and give them another channel … to be recognized."

Ruby Meléndez, a senior at James Monroe High School, and Hector Arguinzoni, who worked for decades for the city’s recreation department, will serve as the parade grand marshals, added Geena Cruz, the parade coordinator.

"We’re trying to find ways to capture the youth and bring them into the parade instead of the aftermath of the festival," Cruz noted. "Also the fact that we’re trying to have something for them to do. We’re always celebrating everything but them."

More than 20 groups and organizations have already signed up to march in the parade, including the city’s recreation department, she said. And parade officials have been visiting youth groups, recreation centers and walking the streets to get as many youths and youth organizations involved in the parade.

Pageant names queen, princess

Pageant names queen, princess

Pageant names queen, princess

Pageant names queen, princess

Pageant names queen, princess

The parade begins at 11 a.m. Aug. 2 at Liberty Pole Way with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m., she said. The parade, which will march down East Main Street to Plymouth Avenue and ends at Frontier Field, encourages floats to have a cultural connection, Cruz said, but with a more youthful twist.

The festival music lineup also features regatton music as well as bachata, which are music styles that appeal to youths, said Ortiz.

"We’re giving everybody a mixture of all the different (music) genres we have," he added.

This year’s lineup is:

* Toby Love and Zion y Lennox on Aug. 1.

* Domingo Quiñones and Grupo Mania on Aug. 2.

* Tito Nieves on Aug. 3.

The festival also will feature a variety of dance performances from youth groups, Ortiz added. And the Rochester Hispanic Youth Baseball League also will be recognized during the weekend, he said.

Annual activities such as the SSGT Javier Ortiz Memorial 5K Race & Walk, a domino tournament, an agency fair and booths offering Latino dishes also will be available throughout the weekend.

All of the festival and parade weekend activities will kick off with a peace rally to be held at 5:30 p.m. July 30 at Don Samuel Torres Park on North Clinton Avenue, said Cruz.

"We’re calling for our religious leaders, our political people, our community members and youth to come out and help us," she said. "Line up in prayer and be at peace with all the events that are going to happen."

Ortiz said that the festival board also has met with the new police chief, who served as the commanding officer during last summer’s event.

While festival and police officials hope that peace wins out and the incidents of disorderly conduct and destruction of property in northeast Rochester neighborhoods don’t take place as they have in past years, Ortiz said.

The festival board is prepared to deal with any such incidents in a new manner, he noted. Volunteers have stepped up to be court watchers and follow the process of any residents who are charged in such incidents and track the outcomes of those cases, Ortiz said.

"People need to start realizing that those incidents are not going to get looked over every year," he added. "We’re excited to have watchers and have people start taking charge of that."

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Editor’s Note: The festival will be held noon to 11 p.m. Aug. 1 and 2 and noon to 7 p.m. Aug. 3. Admission is $10 per day and $25 for a three-day pass. For more information, visit prfestival.com. For more information about the parade, visit www.rochesterpuertoricanparade.com.

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