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NEW YORK (AP) – A tall man dressed all in white marched up a Manhattan avenue Sunday, cheered by tens of thousands of people who left no doubt they would re-elect him as their governor.
Andrew Cuomo was a star of this year's Dominican Day Parade, flanked by two powerful politicians who are pitching for him — New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat and former City Councilman Guillermo Linares, both of Dominican descent.
Under a blazing August sun, the Democratic governor shouted: "Que viva la Republica Dominicana!" And the crowds responded with the same words, meaning, "Long live the Dominican Republic!"
While waving Dominican flags in one hand, many clutched a Cuomo campaign sign in the other. The name of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino — Cuomo's Republican opponent in the fall election — appeared on a few T-shirts.
"It's a great pleasure to be here today," said Cuomo, who also wore a satin sash across his chest that read "Governor" — in case anyone didn't know. "One of the things that makes New York so special is its beautiful diversity, and the Dominican community is a big part of New York City, New York state, and it's been growing and growing."
More than 670,000 ethnic Dominicans live in New York state, according to the latest U.S. Census.
They showed up in full force as well as full throttle, ratcheting up the decibel levels of a quiet Sunday in Manhattan. A happy cacophony of sounds rocked the pavement — human voices shouting over the sirens of fire trucks and an ambulance showcased along with floats whose mammoth loudspeakers emitted ear-piercing music.
"It's crazy! So many people, so much loud music — but it's a good vibe," said Marleny Nunez, 22, a Long Island nurse born on the Caribbean island.
She stood behind police barricades stretching up Sixth Avenue from 37th Street almost to Central Park. Tight security included New York Police Department officers with assault rifles.
Still, smiles lit up the crowd as the parade passed. The red, white and blue colors of the Dominican flag were splashed all over Fleming Alexander Brea, sweating inside a carnival costume that's become an emblem of the annual parade — the "diablo cojuelo" or "limping devil" character with huge, pointed teeth.
"I'm burning hot in this," said Brea, 54, of West New York, New Jersey. "But this parade means everything to me as a Dominican: motivation, energy, my body, my soul."
Nearby was Xiomara Cabrera, a 53-year-old Hunter College student from the Bronx, fanning out her long, flowery gown as she prepared to perform the merengue.
"Our Dominican parade serves another purpose: to teach ethnic Dominican children who were born here the dances they might not learn otherwise," said Cabrera, a member of the Ballet Quisqueya dance troupe.