National Dominican Day Parade celebrates its 40th year in New York City
New York City — For the first time in three long years, the dream of the full return of the Dominican Day parade happened.
Years ago when first moving to New York City, I found myself roaming the concrete jungle. And like most newbies to the City of Dreams, the dreamlike quality of NYC had me at hello. In particular when stumbling upon the richness of new cultures.
There I stood on Seventh Avenue and Broadway, mere feet from the subway terminal. But music — booming at a distance — grabbed, pardon, snatched my attention. I would later come to discover such music to my ears was called Merengue.
"What's that?" I said, thinking out loud.
"That's our parade, Papi!" I heard a voice say warmly from behind. "We're walking that way now," he added. "Come, come ... follow us."
Jose, having never met me before, invited me to join him and his lovely family in celebration. Ahh, life is always beautiful, they say, if only we'll notice it. And over the next hour or so, I had a chance to inhale the beautiful Dominican culture.
"That accordion you hear playing, you see," Jose said, "that's the European part of our culture. And that sweet-sounding tambora over there..." he paused, pointing at a guy banging a two-head drum, "that's from our African heritage!"
"Afro-American and Afro-Dominican ... ahh, I see," I mumbled, basking in the aha moment.
Jose winked. But when he so kindly offered me Guineo Verde con Longaniza (green bananas with Dominican Longanizas), I politely declined.
"Try casabe [cassava bread], then, if you don't eat meat," Jose's aunt offered, as if instinctively recognizing I was vegetarian.
From the dancing to the love that permeated the air — amid those waving flags whose blue signifies liberty, white for salvation and red for the blood of heroes — within an hour or so I fell in love with an entirely new culture.
In short, because "exposure to newness is the mother of new thinking," the City of Dreams once again proves why its name starts with "New."