LIFESTYLE

On with the show: Float-making family says Puerto Rico crisis won’t dim NYC parade

  • NEW YORK - JUNE 13:  Spectators watch the ninth annual Puerto Rican Day Parade pass by June 13, 2004 in New York City. Tens of thousands of people lined Fifth Avenue for the parade.  (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK - JUNE 13: Spectators watch the ninth annual Puerto Rican Day Parade pass by June 13, 2004 in New York City. Tens of thousands of people lined Fifth Avenue for the parade. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)  (2004 Getty Images)

This year, New York City will celebrate its 59th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. The city will host more than 2 million spectators – all of whom have come to dance to salsa and the plena, to point at a plethora of celebrities waving Puerto Rican flags and, of course, to cheer the incredible floats.

Carmen and Jose Camacho have been in the float-building business for the last seven years.

They build around 30 floats a year, but being Puerto Rican themselves, the parade holds a special place in their hearts.

The family business runs out of the National Guard Armory in Newark, New Jersey, but it go off to an unexpected start.

“We never meant for this to be a business,” Carmen told Fox News Latino. “My husband built floats in Puerto Rico, but they were different than the ones we build today. We started the business around the time he built one in the backyard, and it’s kind of progressed from there.” 

More On This...

Jose and his team do the building, and Carmen does the decorating.

Each float requires about as much wood as a small ship does – more than 300 pounds of it. By the time a float is finished it can weigh as much as ten tons.

There were rumors that the parade would be canceled this year – what with the economic crisis on the island and Puerto Rico being billions of dollars in debt it cannot repay.

Carmen told FNL that building floats for the parade this year was a bittersweet experience, but she couldn’t imagine not having done it at all.

“It’s beautiful. I know that the families are over there are watching the parade, and they’re so proud of us,” Carmen said.

During the parade itself, Carmen will be at home cooking for her family and her employees. Her kids will be watching on Fifth Ave, waving flags, enjoying all the excitement of millions of people celebrating Puerto Rican culture.

Of the over 70 floats at the Puerto Rican Day Parade, five of them will have been made by the Camachos.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to show off our work on Fifth Ave in New York City. The parade gives small businesses like ours a chance,” she told FNL.

Building floats is a year-round proposition. Carmen says as she and her husband bring the floats to New York on Sunday to set them up for the parade. Then they’ll take them home, break them down, and the work to build next year’s floats will begin on Monday.

 

Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for FoxNews.com. She can be reached at rebekah.sager@foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager.