Providence, RI, (RUSHPRNEWS) JULY 27, 2008-The annual Puerto Rican Festival opened at Providence Piers Friday evening complete with carnival rides, ethnic and American food, refreshments and a good dose of Puerto Rican culture. The festival is for three days, and there will be a parade honoring veterans of all nationalities on Sunday.
But thereâ€™s more to this story. Four days before opening day, opponents to festivals at Providence Piers surfaced with issues regarding zoning, licensing and parking. As more opponents surfaced and objections began to pile up money grew scarce and it looked like the festival was in serious jeopardy.
News media and wire services began to pick up the story, and before long some of the organizers were receiving words of encouragement from people as far away as Florida , Chicago and Los Angeles . Suddenly finding themselves in the spotlight it became a matter of Puerto Rican pride. Providence Mayor David Cicilline was asked to intervene, and he responded by setting up a special meeting between the city boards and organizers to resolve the issues.
The city boards demanded paperwork, plans, relocation of fencing and that the stage be moved within twenty four hours. The weather was poor with driving rains and flooding making work slow and tedious. Organizers worked tirelessly while soaked to the skin in order to return the following day with proof of compliance and the right paperwork in order to receive the liquor license. When it appeared they would succeed with two hours to go, another demand was made in the 11th hour for more documentation not mentioned earlier.
They succeeded, and that evening as the festival opened pride took hold as festival goers told each other how this was the festival that almost wasnâ€™t. One older man in a Puerto Rican T-Shirt had listeners swelling with pride as he told the story. â€œThey never gave in and never gave up. They moved fences and equipment soaked to the skin by heavy rains and flooding. They raised the money and got the stage company to come back here and move that huge stage 100 feet across an invisible line some clueless official had come up with just the day before. They had no equipment to work with and moved everything by hand. The city bureaucrats had no choice but to grant the licenses out of respect,â€ he concluded. â€œThese Boricua represented!â€
So on the 515th anniversary of the year Columbus set foot on Puerto Rican soil, another story of determination and vision is being told, and everyone agrees that if this isnâ€™t the biggest Puerto Rican festival Rhode Island has ever had, itâ€™s certainly the one with the most pride.
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