(New York, NY) 30,000 people said “Presente!” along Manhattan’s Lower East Side Avenue C on Sunday, May 28, 2017 to celebrate he 30th Anniversary of the iconic Loisaida Festival, dedicated to The Spirit of the Immigrant and Migrant community-Past & PresentMarine-combat-vet-turned actor, singer, and activist, J.W. Cortes, served as the Host and Community Ambassador for the second year in row.

The highlight of the day was the bombastic 2017 Main Stage performances to the rhythm of Salsa, Samba, Charanga, Mambo, and Rock and Roll which had young and old dancing all afternoon. The amazing performance lineup featured the historic return to the stage of legendary Puerto Rican musician, composer, and producer Fran’ Ferrer, founder of Puerto Rico 2010 and Descarga Boricua. UpBeat Youth Orchestra opened up with La Borinqueña,and the party continued throughout the sunny afternoon with Rock and Roll Neoyorquino by Rubí, A Vibes Tribute to Tito Puente! and Cheo Feliciano courtesy of Supermambo – created by Grammy nominated Felipe Fournier;  70’s Charanga music and dancing by Son del Monte and plena dancing by Los Pleneros de la 21.

The historic festivities kicked off with a community parade featuring the cabezudos (big heads) dedicated to prominent community activists that set important footprints in the area like Carmen Pabón, Tato Laviera, Armando Pérez and Bimbo Rivas, who gave Loisaida its name. The Cabezudos were even highlighted in the national publication The Daily Beast while El Diario featured the list of performances as part of its early media coverage of the Festival.

The cabezudos, a Chinese dragon and wide variety of handmade puppets marched to the rhythm of Afro-Brazilian Samba, thanks the talented women of  Batalá. More than 100 vendors offering all kinds of delicious food, Healthy Living, Artisan and Eco Zones, and games for the whole family filled about six blocks along Avenue C, an Avenue many Puerto Ricans and Latinos continue to call home.

The Fourth Annual Festival Theater Lab featured the performance troupe Mezcolanza at the Plaza Cultural packed with activities fun for whole family, and an impressive line-up of first-rate performance artists visiting from Puerto Rico which included flamenco performance by Jeanne D Arc, the distinct Caribbean bohemian meets street jargon musical style of Lizbeth Román and the interactive sculptures of Poncili Creation, recipients of Loisaida Center’s artistic residency.

“When you talk about the immigrant story, the history, you have to start from Loisaida. It is called the gateway to America for a reason. We celebrated 30 years of the Latino beat that has been present in this community for way more than that but that we are glad that we can contribute to keeping that identity alive. Loisaida is culture, is art, is hard work, and all of that was shown through the amazing talent participating this year.”

-Libertad Guerra, director of Loisaida Inc.

“We are so proud of the success of this year’s festival and of the work that so many talented individuals put in it to make it happen. Like every year it attracts thousands of people to experience the Latino identity of Loisaida that we have worked so hard to keep visible. And that alone reaffirms that the mission of the Loisaida Festival should continue for 30 years more. ¡Que Viva Loisaida!”

-Raul Russi, CEO of Acacia Network Inc.

“As a native New Yorker, as a Puerto Rican myself, I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this iconic festival for the second year in a row. Loisaida is part of our identity and events like this make sure the celebration of our culture continues to be an important tradition to generations to come. Thank you to Loisaida Center and Acacia and all those involved for making it happen.”

-J.W. Cortes, Actor and Singer

“We can’t believe this year we attracted almost twice as many people as previous years. Close to 30,000 people is huge when just a few years ago we were on the brink of losing this iconic tradition. Words cannot express the joy to see this festival, our baby, flourish become so successful and so popular and we are thankful to Libertad, the staff at Loisaida Center Inc. The hard work has paid off.”

-Lymaris Albors, VP of Business Development at Acacia Network Inc.

The festival received two proclamations, one from Mayor Bill de Blasio and one from Governor Andrew Cuomo. Among the elected officials present were Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, who represents Loisaida; City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and representatives from the Mayor’s and Governor’s office.

This year’s presenting sponsors for the festival were: Popular Community Bank and Investors Bank. The supporting sponsors included: Phipps Houses, The Hispanic Federation, ConEdison, United Health Care, Acacia Network, WellCare, AgeWell New York, MetroPlus, Sterling National Bank, the Office of Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. We also forever grateful for the in-kind support provided by Webster Hall, our local supermarket C-Town, Two Boots Pizza, ABC Beer, El Diario, NY1 News, LP21 and Univision.

Photographs by: Ryan John Lee

About the Loisaida Festival:

Produced and hosted by Loisaida Inc., the Loisaida Festival is the biggest Carnival in downtown Manhattan, bringing more than 15,000 neighbors, guests artists, community organizations, companies, NYC leaders and restaurants together to celebrate their Latino contributions to NYC. The event has been featured in the New York Times, TimeOut New York, El Diario La Prensa, DNA Info, New York Magazine, Manhattan Times, among many others.

Founded in 1978, Loisaida Inc. is on a mission to address the serious economic and social disenfranchisement of  Latinx residents while offering multi-generational programming that appeals to the social and cultural sensibilities of the Lower East Side. At the Loisaida Center’s new home in 710 East 9th Street, we build a connection between community, learners, artists and scholars through original productions and exhibits, idea activation space for creative cross-training, community collaboration, artistic residency program, and the historic Loisaida Festival. Our approach celebrates the urban surroundings, grassroots invention and immigrant spirit of the Loisaida neighborhood in its dedication to celebrate Latinx cultural vitality and their contributions to NYC.About Acacia Network: The Acacia Network, the parent company of Loisaida Inc., is an integrated care organization with offices in New York City, Buffalo and Albany, Orlando and Puerto Rico, the 2nd largest Hispanic nonprofit organization in the country. The mission is realized through three main service delivery systems; Primary Health Care, Behavioral Health Care, and Housing.

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