Chita Rivera, Tony Orlando to Headline National Puerto Rican Day Parade 2013
New York's landmark Fifth Avenue will once again shine with Puerto Rican pride and culture, as the
18th Annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade (56th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade since the event's inception as a local organization), will take place on Sunday, June 9 2013.
In a press conference held at Popular Community Bank Headquarters in Lower Manhattan, Madelyn Lugo, the Parade's President, announced that this year's Grand Marshal is legendary actress/singer/dancer Chita Rivera, whose illustrious career spans over 50 years in entertainment.
"For generations, Chita Rivera has been a source of pride and inspiration for Puerto Ricans around the world", Lugo said. "We are utterly proud to proclaim her the National Puerto Rican Day Parade's 2013 Grand Marshal, in recognition of her trailblazing accomplishments and artistic legacy".
Born in Washington DC to a family of Puerto Rican descent, Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero, has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical, and received seven additional Tony nominations. She first graced the Great White Way at age 17, as a principal dancer in Call Me Madam, followed by her world-acclaimed performance as "Anita" in the original Broadway production of West Side Story. She also starred in such celebrated productions as Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman, A Dancer's Life (a musical that celebrated her groundbreaking work), the revival of Nine, and most recently, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Rivera received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, and was the first Hispanic to receive the Kennedy Center Honor, among other recognitions.
"I have many great memories of attending the Puerto Rican Day Parade with my heart swelling with pride and joy, just at being a member of its community", Rivera said. "Two things that distinguish the Parade from all the others are great music and the attempt to keep your body still, while surrounded by those pulsating rhythms. Not possible! I am so grateful for the honor of being The Grand Marshal. It makes me appreciative of my heritage and to be part of this exciting day."
Lugo also announced that this year's parade theme is Salud -Celebrate your Health, in acknowledgement of the Parade's ongoing health awareness campaign, which hosts an annual series of events that includes a walkathon, free health fairs and screenings, and educational forums. In addition, the Parade is paying homage to the Puerto Rican community's contribution to health sciences and health administration nationwide.
"From top-decision makers in Washington, to doctors, nurses, administrators, and other health workers, Puerto Ricans make a tremendous contribution to bringing the best quality health services and education into our communities. This parade is also dedicated to them", Lugo added.
George Gresham, President 1199 SEIU, the health workers union, was proclaimed International Marshal.
"The healthcare workers of 1199 SEIU are proud to participate in the great National Puerto Rican Day Parade, and I am honored to be the International Marshal of this vibrant and vitally important cultural tradition", he said. "As healthcare workers, we are on the front lines everyday caring for our patients in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and home care programs. More and more, the healthcare industry depends on our latino members to provide culturally competent care to an increasingly diverse patient population. This parade is an incredible way to celebrate the proud Puerto Rican culture with music, art, food, and dance, and to build our movement for quality healthcare for all."