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The energy is building all across New York City.
The music is getting louder.
The flags are flying.
The National Puerto Rican Day Parade is coming up and the Boricua vibe is in the air. Every year, the week before the parade is a celebration of Puerto Rican culture. It’s the week that Puerto Rican pride is at its peak!
I have had the wonderful pleasure of being part of the television broadcast of the parade since 2000. This year I have 3 stories that will air during the parade broadcast.
First, I went to see the New Jersey-based Bomba group, the Cimarrones. They were performing at Newark Symphony Hall as part of a Leadership Summit. Led by Nelson Baez, the group’s mission is to promote the beautiful music and culture of Puerto Rico. Nelson spoke to me about how Bomba was created on Puerto Rico’s colonial sugar plantations by African slaves in the 1600s. The Cimarrones gave a wonderful performance and even invited the audience to learn the dance steps. I happily joined in!
Next, I paid a visit to Salsa Latina Restaurant in Matawan, New Jersey. I spent the afternoon cooking up a storm with the owner, Carolyn Carrillo. In this piece you will see us make mofongo, arroz con gandules, pernil, and coco flan. Delicioso! The food was fabulous and the restaurant looks just like Old San Juan. Carolyn spent many years working in the fashion industry before making a career change. She followed her passion for cooking and decided to open a restaurant. I love that! Apparently the folks of New Jersey do too because Salsa Latina is packed every night.
Finally, I sat down for an interview with actor/comedian John Leguizamo. We talked about his new one-man show on Broadway called “Ghetto Klown.” This show is a hilarious look at his rise to stardom with the people he met and experiences he had. We also spoke about his wide array of projects from stage, to television, to film. I ended the interview with a quiz: “How Puerto Rican Are You?” Tune in to find out the answer!
All of these pieces will air during the television broadcast of the 54th Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 12th. Get out those flags, roll down the windows, and turn up the volume on your car stereo. Tis the season to be Puerto Rican! Boricua!
You can celebrate by getting your "Bomba" on. Below is a video on the dance's origins and meaning.