Loíza Festival in El Barrio 2017 Finale

50th Annual Festival Santiago Apóstol De Loíza En El Barrio ProcessionalA group hug between members of a Puerto Rican family, integral to a 50 year legacy in NYC, upon concluding their ritual dance at the Festival Santiago Apóstol De Loíza En El Barrio.

(July 30, 2017)
The Sunday processional capping the local observance of Festival Santiago Apóstol De Loíza proceeded smoothly through sublime weather conditions, starting at 106th Street & Lexington Avenue, down to Third Avenue, then up to 115th Street. They were led by this year’s Madrina Manuela Arciniegas, Founder & Director of Legacy Women, Padrino Juan Gutiérrez , Founder & Director of Los Pleneros de la 21, and Ms. Iris Robles, President of Los Hermanos Fraterno de Loíza, collecting cheers from onlookers as they marched by. The group moved to the plena beat, under a hot sun, undeterred, turning west to Lexington Avenue again, then back downtown towards 108th Street, finally making their way to the festival venue on 109th Street between Third & Second Avenue. Once there, family members of the late Matriarch Doña Aida Perez performed their ritual dance, then concluded with a group hug.

Legacy Women was just concluding their onstage performance when the processional arrived. They were soon followed by Los Pleneros de la 21 — the esteemed NYC-based Puerto Rican cultural music group led by Juan ‘Juango’ Gutiérrez. The always colorful and crowd pleasing Danza Fiesta Dance Company spread onto the tar street with their falditas and theatrics between couples invoking plena scenarios as dance language. Their set was highlighted by a comparsa of vejigantes and traditional festival caricatures. Milteri Tucker & Bombazo Dance Company brought their elegance and energetic interpretations of modern bomba y plena to the stage in bright yellow this year. Rounding off the performances for the finale were Flaco Navaja and the Razor Blades, and Bronx Charanga! 

The 50th Annual Festival Santiago Apóstol De Loíza En El Barrio was presented by Los Hermanos Fraternos De Loíza and the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI). The community event typically held over decades on 105th Street between Lexington & Park Avenue, has been displaced, for the past two years, to 109th Street between Third & Second Avenue, due to area construction. One of the benefits to the relocation whether permanent or temporary is open space. Larger numbers of people can be accommodated, and 2017, by far and unofficially, has drawn one of the largest crowds in recent history. The street-naming in honor of Doña Aida Perez has proven to be a pinnacle moment for the organization Los Hermanos Fraternos De Loíza who, according to a family member, are now weighing their role in presenting future observances of the local tradition. No matter what the outcome may be, mil gracias to Doña Aida Perez (EPD) y Los Hermanos Fraternos De Loíza, for reminding us how rich the Puerto Rican family and their descendants are. ¡Que Viva Doña Aida Perez! ¡Que Viva Los Hermanos Fraternos De Loíza! ¡Y Que Viva Loíza!

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