Puerto Rican Fest Beats The Thunderstorms

Isis Davis-Marks PhotoAt the third annual Puerto Rican festival, members of the New Haven community gathered for dancing, eating, and — of course — playing a couple games of dominoes.

“I won!” Wilson Reyes exclaimed, slamming down a domino.

Wilson and his group of friends sat huddled around a wooden table painted with the words “Puerto Rico” while playing a game of dominoes. They took the score and cleared the table to prepare for another game.

“Even though it was raining, we decided to come out with the dog, some drinks, and —“ Reyes waved his hands, gesturing to the table littered with dominoes, “the table.”

“We saw that the location of the event was changed on Facebook, and we decided to come anyway.”

The third annual Puerto Rican Festival was originally supposed to take place Saturday from 1 to 9 p.m. on the Green. Then came the thunderstorms. Puerto Ricans United Inc. moved the event to Bregamos Community Theater at Erector Square from 6 to 9 pm.

“This isn’t my event, but I was happy to have people come,” said Rafael Ramos, the founder and President of Bregamos Community Center. “They asked for someplace to come because of the rain, and of course I said yes. I founded this theater for everyone in the community, and anyone who wants to come is welcome.”

The event at Bregamos Community Theater still had food trucks —  with foods like empanadas and platanos —  and musical performances from artists including Oscar Serrano, Movimiento Cultural, and Orquesta Afinke. The venue was able to accommodate up to 150 people at one time; people were allowed to enter as others left for the night.

“We said that the event was rain or shine, and everyone was expecting this to happen because it’s our biggest event of the year,” Edwin Martinez, the Vice President of Puerto Ricans United Inc., said. “In the end, everyone pulled together to participate in the event.”

And, indeed, everyone pulled together. Vendors and food trucks parked in the parking lot outside of the Bregamos community theater. Inside the venue, people were able to dance and enjoy the music of the DJ and the live band. People danced together and snapped photos of performances. Outside, there were also arts and crafts tents and an informative display of information about the animals of Puerto Rico. It was a celebration of culture in all forms.

“We’re one big family,” Reyes said. “We’re all from the same island.”

For more on the festival, click here to read Lucy Gellman’s account in the Arts Paper.

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