Colombian Parade mix of song, dance and pride

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Colombians from the borough and beyond lined up along Northern Boulevard in East Elmhurst Sunday to celebrate their homeland’s independence by waving flags and dancing to music during the Colombian Parade.

“We’re so proud. It’s great to see a lot of Colombians,” said Nora Patino, a 25-year resident of East Elmhurst and native of Colombia. “I like to come here to see a lot of things from Colombia. I like the music. I like to see the flags. I like to see the people dancing around. It’s very nice.

“My kids were born here, but they love Colombia, too,” she said.

City Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) danced to Latino music with a woman along the parade route, which also featured women riding in Mercedes-Benz convertibles with the tops down waving red, yellow and blue Colombian flags.

Carlos Manzaro, the first Colombian elected official in New York state´╗┐ who heads the city Commission of Latin Media and Entertainment, served as the parade’s grand marshal.

About a dozen floats, most of them featuring either singers, dancers or girls waving flags, were part of the parade, including one sponsored by Avianca Airlines, Colombia’s national airline.

The FDNY’s Hispanic Society also marched in the parade with a fire engine that blasted its sirens along Northern Boulevard.

“I like to see all the Colombians having fun,” said Colombian immigrant Libardo Clavijo, a 39-year-old Manhattan resident who emigrated 10 years ago.

Also part of the parade was Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, who waved to parade spectators along the route.

Colombia gained its independence from Spain July 20, 1818.

Enis Rodriguez left Colombia 20 years ago for East Elmhurst.

“We like the music,” she said of the parade. “Colombia is the second-happiest country in the world, that’s what we hear.”

East Elmhurst resident and Colombian immigrant Eddie Suarez said he comes to the parade each year “to feel all the Colombian pride.”

“I’ve been in the states for 32 years, but every year I come here,” he said.

Cesar Luna, a Peruvian immigrant and New Jersey resident whose wife is Colombian, said he felt strongly about his wife’s heritage, wearing a Colombian shirt with the phrase “How Beautiful Is My Country?” written in Spanish.

“My feelings are with Colombia because the people are nice over there, especially in the inner towns,” he said. “Latin American countries are similar.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 11:09 am, October 12, 2011
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