ROCHESTER, New York (WROC) – Communities and stores around North Clinton Ave. and Sullivan St. we’re treated to more business and activities this Saturday as the annual Puerto Rico Festival was brought to their side of the tracks.
There was some real concern about throwing the festival this year with what we know the Delta Variant is doing some in the community wanted it canceled again over fears of widespread outbreaks in Covid-19 cases. Those on the board told us they’re using this to help combat the virus.
During this first weekend, people coming into the International Plaza has a lot of space to keep to themselves but also PPE handed out at the gate for anyone concerned. Next Saturday they’ll have a chance to get vaccinated.
“Throughout the day we’ll be promoting vaccination on-site,” Festival Board President Orlando Ortiz told us. “And be able to have people next week to be vaccinated at parcel five. Which will have a mobile unit right outside to get people vaccinated.”
Unable to come out last year, many felt it was more special to celebrate the uniqueness of Puerto Rican heritage for what it is outside of all other Latino cultures.
“We are united by one language, Spanish, but our cultures are very different,” Samuel Borges, of Rochester with Puerto Rican Dissent, said. “Ours has a lot of influence from the Africans, the Spanish, and the Tino Indians. But the food is very ours.”
Food sales were a big business for not just vendors but also local businesses up and down the street who took advantage of the surge in foot traffic.
“We have done much more already. We are past our quota today,” R&R Grab and Go Manager Rafael Belliard explained. “So, being out here and being able to bring our stuff out and talk to the community and see people face to face and play music for them is amazingly benefiting us.”
While hosted by the Puerto Rican community leaders those in Rochester from Cuba were given honorary mentions on stage and recognized to expose the inhuman treatment Cubans are going through back home and why everyone must rally in support of them.
The first part of the festival wrapped up at 9:00 p.m. They will hold the second part of the celebration next Saturday at Parcel 5, 285 E. Main St.