Asopao. Arroz con gandules y lechon. Tostones.
Do any of these ring a bell? One of them is the national dish of Puerto Rico; yellow rice and pigeon peas with roasted pork. If your mouth isn’t watering yet, just wait until June 2nd. With one of the largest Puerto Rican populations in the country, Hartford is set to be a destination for the Puerto Rican Parade & Festival del Coqui.
The Parade & Festival are organized by the Connecticut Institute for Community Development Puerto Rican Parade Committee (CICD), which is “committed to preserving [Puerto Rican] culture by promoting leadership and education, celebrating traditions and being involved in community service for the Puerto Rican and Hispanic community.” Board President and Vice Chairperson Sammy Vega works with 9 other Board members and 50 volunteers to organize this massive annual undertaking. “The Board is made up of members from the cultural, nonprofit, education, government, and business sectors,” says Vega. “They bring an array of skills, ideas and points of view to the organization, which translates into strategic thinking to propel CICD forward. They are the new generation of leaders who continue to promulgate the work done by many others who came before them.”
The Parade and Festival are indeed not only a celebration of Greater Hartford’s current Puerto Rican population, but also the first generation of immigrants who arrived in Connecticut in the 1840’s. In addition to being cultural and historical in nature, the celebration is also meant to be educational. With the help of national brands like GOYA and Tito’s Handmade Vodka and local partners such as Dressler Law and Access Health CT, CICD and its volunteers are excited to continue showcasing and educating the public about Puerto Rican culture. Asked what his favorite part of the event is, Vega was quick to reply, “seeing people from all nationalities enjoying our beautiful culture, music, food…” That is really what Summer in the City is all about – a celebration of Hartford’s many different cultures.
If, for whatever reason, you aren’t able to take part in the Parade (as if asopao, sweet and sticky rice cooked in ginger, milk, coconut milk, raisins and rum isn’t enough of an incentive), CICD has partnered with WTNH News 8 to broadcast the parade live. Festival attendees can also look forward to performances by local and national artists including salsa singer Hector Tricoche, Domenic Marte, and Hartford native Shorty C.