Since last year, Panamanians have been anticipating the second Saturday in October when musicians, dancers, singers, politicians, beauty queens and proud nationals of the two-star isthmus parade through the streets of Brooklyn in celebration of their culture and heritage.
Held on the eve of the Hispanic Day Parade along Fifth Ave. the annual Kings County assembly coincides with the nationally declared Hispanic Heritage Month and mostly unites Panamanian nationals in celebration of the country’s revered discovery by Christopher Columbus with revelry in commemoration of their acquisition and hard-fought independence from Colombia in 1892.
On Oct. 12, DJ Noire, Maxwell Campbell, Carmelita Smith, DJ Rigo Williams and attorney Abel Arcia will walk a path as honorary Grand Marshalls of the all-day event.
Endorsed by supporters in Panama, groups from the acclaimed Puente Del Mundo (bridge of the world) will travel north to represent with delegations of marching bands from Instituto Fermin Naudeau, Colegio San Martin de Pores, Colegio Guillermo Galimany, Academia Santa Maria and many more institutions there.
In addition, local music groups slated to participate include — Panamanian Marching Band from Atlanta, the United Panamanians Veterans band and the First Panamanian Marching Band of Brooklyn.
Hosted by the 25-year-old Day of Independence Committee of Panamanians in New York, the annual is reputed to be the largest Panamanian parade in the USA and only the second largest Caribbean gathering in the borough.
Throughout the years, the English and Spanish-speaking Caribbean community have embraced the spectacle with local organizations, folkloric groups, schools, marching bands and elected officials who converge at the kickoff Franklin Ave. & Bergen St. to witness a flag-raising ceremony that begins at 10:30 am.
Borough President Eric Adams is expected to join distinguished guests during this event before parading along Franklin Ave. to President St.
A festive atmosphere will prevail as colorfully costumed ambassadors wearing national polleras, native Indian molas and traditional garb will flaunt their distinguished heritage.
Decorated, open air cars carrying pageant queens often follow the route that culminates at Classon Ave. and Eastern Parkway where a huge stage will feature non-stop music groups performing rhythm & blues, jazz, reggae and Latin music by Osvaldo Ayala, Rossi Perez, Alferdito Payne, Jazz Fusion de la Policia Nacional de Panama and others.
Anyone who has ever happened into the unique, traditional display may be able to relate the preponderance of foods, crafts, fashion, gadgets, merchandise and trinkets that line the avenue forcing revelers and spectators to spill onto the park across from the Brooklyn Museum.
There, a virtual festival defines the feast that feeds the senses.
Lasting long after twilight the gathering of well-behaved, proud Panamanians to exemplify the aim organizers envisioned when they grouped in 1994 to “diffuse knowledge with regard to the Panamanian culture” will again boast a combined heritage.
According to Maria McKenzie, the public relations spokesperson; “it was their main objective.”
Another she said was to “bring Panamanians and other Latin Americans together to celebrate and commemorate Panama’s separation from Colombia which occurred on Nov. 3, 1903.”
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National Heritage Week begins on Oct. 13 in Jamaica and Olivia “Babsy” Grange, the island’s minister of culture, sports and entertainment is encouraging the diaspora and the world community of nationals to acknowledge the period with pride.
“Let us seize this opportunity to remind ourselves of the rich heritage left to us by our ancestors and the great legacy that it has become,” the minister said.
“Let National Heritage Week be a time to inspire our people to play their part in building the Jamaica that we all desire while advancing the welfare of the whole human race.”
The main activities for National Heritage Week will take place on Heroes Day, October 21 when the nation “pay homage to its seven National Heroes as well as to our everyday heroes who follow in the footsteps of the seven by dedicating their lives to, and giving great sacrifice in service to others.” On Heroes Day, more than 100 people will be honored and awarded for their service.
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