Last year, residents from Union City and West New York flooded Bergenline Avenue for two parades held by different Dominican groups to celebrate Restoration Day, a holiday in the Dominican Republic that falls on August 16.
This year, the Dominican community has united and will hold one parade on Aug. 26 to celebrate the holiday.
The parade will begin in West New York at 59th Street and Bergenline Avenue at 12 p.m. and will continue through Bergenline Avenue and end on 31st Street in Union City.
"We understand that separately, we do not have any power," said Freddie Gomez, this year's president of the newly formed Dominican Parade and Festival of Hudson County.
The grand marshal for the parade will be Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Jim McGreevey, the International Grandfather is Rafael Pineda, a newscaster for Channel 41, and the Local Godfather in the event will be Jorge Ramos, a newscaster on Channel 47.
Entertainment on the floats during the parade will be provided by various radio stations including Latino Mix 105.9 and WADO 1280 A.M., and live music will be performed by Dominican dance group Oro Solido.
After holding two parades in 1997, the two groups within the Dominican community signed an agreement
stating that there would be only one parade each year and that an election would be held to decide on a president of the Dominican Parade of Hudson County organization in 2000. However, after that election did not take place and a second Dominican organization applied and received a parade permit, the Dominican community again, for the second time, held two parades in 2000.
This year, the two organizations decided to put their differences aside and unite the Dominican communities.
However, coming together to hold one parade is just the beginning for this new united front. According to Gomez, the Dominican community is looking for political power.
"It is incredible that in Hudson County we do not have any Dominican representation in any city," said Gomez, explaining that there is a very large Dominican community in this area. "Who is going to speak for the Dominican community? We have no one."
One parade or two
Although the groups are united, Francois Nunez, the coordinator for this year's parade who ran the second Dominican parade last year, does not agree that just one parade is enough.
"It is better to have two parades," said Nunez. "With two parades you provide more entertainment for the community. Right now there are not many [events] for the community."
But this year's celebration includes more events than just a parade. On Aug. 21, city officials raised the Dominican flag across the street from City Hall. They also planned a grand gala on Aug. 24 at Club Hijos Amigos Foment on 38th Street in Union City.
Two leaders representing the Hispanic and Dominican communities were honored at this gala.
Rep. Robert Menendez (D-13th Dist.) was to be honored as a leader for Hispanic causes.
"He is the best friend we have in the United States Congress," said Gomez about Menendez.
Onelia Martin, a Dominican woman and Senior Vice President of the DATEK online Internet company also was to be honored at the event.
"It brings great pride to the Dominican community to see that someone in our community can hold such a high position," said Gomez.
Taking politics out of it
Although this year's Dominican Parade grand marshal is gubernatorial candidate Jim McGreevey, Nunez said that this is the last time you will see any political candidate or office holder with a high position in the parade.
"We welcome all political leaders and candidates to take part in our parade," said Nunez. "But they will no longer be grand marshal or any other position."
"A parade is a parade," said Nunez, who added that a parade is meant to show the culture from one's native country. "There shouldn't be any politics."