‘A family reunion’: Puerto Rican Fest kicks off Thursday

[anvplayer video=”5187405″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Puerto Rican Festival starts on Thursday, and runs through Saturday night. It’s the longest-running ethnic festival in Monroe County. And new this year, the parade is returning to it’s roots on North Clinton Avenue, for the first time in decades.

Orlando Ortiz, president of the Puerto Rican Festival said he wants everyone to come out to see what the culture and good times are all about.

“We see a lot of folks that are not Latino coming out to the festival, to me that’s also a sense of pride too,” he said. “Like yes, we want to open our arms and show off who we are as far as the food, the music. We have the typical Puerto Rican food, rice with pigeon peas, beans with roasted pork, fried pork.”

The festival will take place at Innovative Field, with the parade on Saturday morning.

“The parade starts at International Plaza, on Saturday at 10 a.m., with festivities. The parade itself starts at 11 a.m. and ends at Innovative Field,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz said he wants the community to know it’s a family-friendly event. When night falls, they’ll be enforcing safety with the Northeast Safety Committee, a community policing tactic.

Anthony Plonczynski-Figueroa helps run it. He said they work in partnership with the city, Rochester Police and Rochester fire.

“We’re in constant communication, working with one another,” said Plonczynski-Figueroa. “We tried to be that first line of support before RPD, RFD, we get involved if they have to. So we really bring the community face and connection to community outreach.”

He said it’s been successful in recent years.

“We really are community ambassadors,” he said. “We walk around the streets inside the Northeast, Clinton Avenue, just reminding folks if they’re going to celebrate, celebrate in a safe way.”

He said it’s important to remember what the festival is all about.

“The food, the smells of the food, the culture, the colors, the comradery. It’s also one big family reunion.”

Admission is free on Thursday. But Friday will be ticketed, and events after the parade on Saturday will be ticketed.

Tickets cost $10 in advance, but children ages five and under are admitted for free.

Seniors ages 60+ and children ages six to twleve are allowed admission for $5.

Tickets at the door will cost $15 Friday and Saturday.

Festival organizers say children 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult.