Panamanian culture, pride shine bright at annual parade

First Panamanian Drum & Bugle Corp. (Coalition Marching Band)  DICPNY/Oko Okoko
First Panamanian Drum & Bugle Corp. (Coalition Marching Band)
DICPNY/Oko Okoko

The morning of the annual Panamanian Parade in Brooklyn started out cloudy, with a chance of rain, but soon turned to “complete sunshine” at the commencement of the flag ceremony, as Panamanian culture and pride shone bright on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, according to lawyer Angélica L. Thomas.

Thomas, recording secretary of the organizing group, Day of Independence Committee of Panamanians in New York, Inc. (DICPNY), told Caribbean Life on Wednesday that the ceremony honored parade grand marshals Alfonso Greaves and Bishop Eric D. Garnes; José Luis Fábregaa, Mayor of Panamá (Samuel Samuels of Panama City, Panamá accepted the award on behalf of Fabrega); and Parade Godparents (Padrinos) James A. “DJ Coochie” Smith, Sherwin H. Johnson, Jr. and Graciela Pollard-Johnson.

Thomas said essential workers, nurse Desiree Betty and Barbara Duck, were also recognized for their sacrifice and dedication during the height of NYC COVID-19 health crisis in 2020.

She said posthumous recognitions were given to DICPNY founders José Brerenton and Telma Lobo.

Edwin Pitti, National Correspondent for Univision Network News in Washington, D.C, was the Master of Ceremonies, Thomas said.

Molas De Panama Float. DICPNY/Oko Okoko

She said a large number of dignitaries attend the flag ceremony and parade, including Elias Levy, Consul General of Panama in New York; Vilma de Bello, Vice-Consul of Panamá in New York); Georgia Athanasopulos, Consul General of Panamá in Pennsylvania; Mackie Holder, Consul General of Barbados in New York; Eugenio Delgado, President of the National Association of Representatives in Colón, Panamá; Eliezer Montenegro, representative of the Municipality and president of the Provincial Council of Colón, Panamá; and Flor K. Flores, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panamá.

Among other attendees were: Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke and Caribbean American New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Archbishop Roberto Brown, invocation speaker; Melanie Brown, DICPNY Junior Queen; Alera Osborne, Miss New York Panama; Dr. Patricia Ramsey, president of Medgar Evers College, CUNY; Earl Phillips, secretary-treasurer of the Transit Workers Union; State Sen. Guyanese Roxanne Persaud; Assemblywoman Haitian American Phara Soufrant Forest; Democratic nominees for City Council Haitian-born Rita Joseph, Jamaican American Crystal Hudson and Sandy Nurse; and Roman Foster, Panamanian Filmmaker of Diggers documentary.

“While the number of parade participants from Panamá and USA were notably fewer due to the pandemic, the quality of the parade was not compromised,” Thomas told Caribbean Life, adding that the parade comprised, among others, comparsa and folkloric dance groups, a coalition of marching bands, a float, and a Barbadian delegation.

She said the parade was followed by a festival, with live entertainment food and artisan vendors.

Among festival performers were Orquesta La K’Shamba (a Panamanian salsa musical group), Eyedeal Bayano, King Blak, Anyuri “Cuchita”, Italian Somali, DJ Rigo and DJ Ray.

“At the sunset of the 2021 Panamanian Parade, the organizers, pleased by the outpour of support and positive feedback, began looking ahead to 2022,” Thomas said. “Viva Panama!”

Besides Thomas, other DICPNY members are: Enrique Small, president; María C. Willis, 1st vice president; Oliver Prince, Jr., 2nd vice president; Federico Beaumont, corresponding secretary; and Tamara L. Bell Brown, treasurer.

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