With New York City announcing the return of large gatherings, the Panamanian Parade and Street Festival are back as in- person celebrations, according to The Day of Independence Committee of Panamanians in New York, Inc. (DICPNY).
Many Afro-Panamanians trace their roots to several Caribbean islands and territories, such as Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Many Caribbean nationals worked in the building on the Panama Canal.
DICPNY said in a statement on Monday that the Panamanian Parade and Street Festival will take place this Saturday, Oct. 9, in Brooklyn.
In 2020, DICPNY said it “broke from tradition” by producing a virtual parade in light of the COVID-19 health crisis.
DICPNY said it has also implemented “Panama Week,” from Oct. 2 to Oct. 7, which is a series of events prior to the grand Panamanian Parade.
They include Community Health Fair; Worship Service; Meet and Greet Reception, hosted by Consul General of Barbados, Mackie Holder; and Semi-Formal Reception.
DICPNY said the Panamanian Parade will begin with a flag ceremony at 10:30 am. at Franklin Avenue and Bergen Street, followed by the parade march at noon, along Franklin Avenue.
The march will include community organizations, folkloric groups, marching bands and elected officials from the US and Panamá. The parade ends at Franklin Avenue and President Street.
Grand Marshals are: Alfonso Greaves and Bishop Eric D. Garnes, D.Min., MPS; International Grand Marshal: Hon. José Luis Fábrega-Alcalde de Panamá; Parade Godparents (Padrinos): James A. “DJ Coochie” Smith, Sherwin H. Johnson, Jr. and Graciela Pollard-Johnson.
DICPNY said the celebration continues with a Street Festival at Classon Avenue and Eastern Parkway, which includes performances and music from Panamanian artists from the US and Panamá, and “vendors of delicious Panamanian and American foods, clothing, crafts and much more.”
Elias Levy, consul general of Panamá in New York said: “As Consul General of Panama in New York, we are very happy that DICPNY, once again performs its traditional parade in commemoration of our independence from Colombia.
“Last year, in the midst of a pandemic, DICPNY tried very hard to maintain the tradition by holding a virtual parade in its 25 years of organizing such a beautiful activity,” he said. “This year, we return to the traditional Franklin Avenue to show our culture, our music and our people. Congratulations on your 26th parade.”
Enrique Small, DICPNY president, said: “We are so proud to celebrate our 26th year of the Panamanian Parade in Brooklyn.
“We have been very fortunate to have a great team that has served our community for all of these years,” he said. “We are grateful of the relationship we have with our community and the trust they have placed upon us, specially, in a pandemic year where there is so much uncertainty.
“Surely, we will continue to share culture and a piece of our heritage during these times,” Small continued. “We don’t take for granted the trust our parade goers have placed in us.”
“As a Panamanian Afro-Latina, I am proud to celebrate my culture, traditions, and history with a parade in Brooklyn, NY,” said María C. Willis, DICPNY first vice president. “It is beautiful to see the bands and the children marching with pride wearing their cultural attire, waving the Panamanian flag down Franklin Avenue.
“It is also fulfilling to share my roots and this annual event with my children and grandchildren,” she added. “I am blessed to celebrate my roots and diversity in Brooklyn, the melting pot of cultures.”
DICPNY Secretary Angelica L. Thomas, a lawyer, said she has “always looked forward to Panamanian Parade in Brooklyn,” adding that “this year is no different.
“I am filled with pride and love for Mi Panamá as I watch the ‘sea’ of comparsa groups, folkloric dancers, marching bands, polleras and parade viewers along Franklin Avenue in October – a beautiful kaleidoscope of Panamanian culture and diversity,” she said.
DICPNY, a nonprofit organization established in 1995, said its mission is “to share the richness of the Panamanian cultural history and bring together Panamanian and other nationalities in celebration and commemoration of Panamá’s separation from Colombia on Nov . 3, 1903.”
For 26 years, DICPNY said it has produced the Panamanian Parade in Brooklyn, which has become known as the largest Panamanian Parade outside of the Republic of Panamá.
For more information, visit: https://PanamanianParade.org or on social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and YouTube) at Panamanian Parade.