A celebration of tradition took place at Hartford City Hall for members of the Puerto Rican community who have relocated after Hurricane Maria.
The rapidly approaching holiday is the first many families will celebrate from home after the island was devastated, but the dozens who arrived for the festivities on Saturday night said that while ‘things’ may have been lost, their traditions and sense of pride is stronger than ever.
Hundreds of people took part in a ‘parranda,’ the Puerto Rican equivalent of caroling, in which a group of people walk from house to house singing and spreading holiday cheer. The group started its journey at Mayor Bronin’s Hartford home, and walked to the Hartford City Hall, where the party continued with abundant food and music.
“It ties us back home to the island,” said Puerto Rican Parade Chair member, Ana Valentin Jackson. “Especially around this time because many of the families are here for the first time.”
Amongst the crowd, Eyewitness News spoke with a father of three girls and his wife who he said attended the celebrations to feel closer to home.
Speaking through a translator, Israel Rivera told Eyewitness News that they had to leave the island after Hurricane Maria destroyed their home.
“In a way, he’s feeling sad because he’s not in Puerto Rico but he is trying to do everything he can to try and get ahead here,” said Rivera.
Rivera said it’s hard to talk about celebrations at a time when the pain still lingers following Maria’s destruction. But, he said he is trying to establish new roots here in Connecticut and stability for the new year.
“Puerto Rico desperately still needs help,” said Valentin Jackson. “It’s going to take years before it gets to be the way it used to be before Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit.”
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