Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why I Cherish the Parranda en El Barrio

Navidad Criolla

Last weekend I went to the Parranda en El Barrio and had a great time. For those that missed this year's Traditional Puerto Rican Christmas celebration in East Harlem, mark your calendars for next year. Once again the Parranda met and exceeded my expectations. The place was beautiful, the food was plentiful (and good!!) and the songs timeless! The band Cholo Rivera y Salsa typica (which sometimes goes by the name Charanga Blues) was exceptional.

We were greeted with coquito and bowls of candy from Puerto Rico. The host, Dr. Anna Villafane, made everyone feel at home. This year guests were also given beautiful maracas, which I will cherish forever!

Because of the Parranda's growing popularity, organizers might have to move the event next year to accommodate the increasing crowds. It will be great to keep the Parranda in El Barrio though.

Despite the Parranda's growth, the key ingredient that must remain the same is the welcoming and giving environment that Villafane offers. As my home body Aunt Lucy who shocked us by joining us to the Parranda said, “I’m coming next year!”

It was a difficult decision for my family to go to this year's Parranda due to my brother's death. But I’m glad we went because we need to celebrate life and the things that bring us joy.

It was great to see good friends from Jersey City. Sonia, it was especially wonderful to see you. Thanks for the beer girl. I really needed it!

Last year, I met Iris Barreto at the Parranda and am honored to now have her as a friend. She sat at my family's table this year.

My friends, I hope to see more of you at this wonderful traditional event next year. You too might make a great friend or get the chance to reconnect with old friends.

Merry Christmas! -- Rosa Valentin

Rosa Valentin contributed this article to Puerto Rico Sun.

Editor's note: Organizers say that proceeds from this year's Parranda will go to Escuela Dr. Jose Ramos Lebron Sector de la Playa de Fajardo, Puerto Rico. See related November 19 entry in this blog.

(Photos by Clarence Elie-Rivera)


Anonymous said...

That sounds great. Do you know if there are ever parrandas in Brooklyn? I've recently moved to the Gowanus area. Lots of boricuas here, but I haven't heard anything about a parranda.

Anonymous said...

Hello, This is Rosa Valentin and I myself don't know of any in Brooklyn but if you want to share in a beautiful experience I suggest you join us next year! Believe me it really is a great time! What makes it even more exceptional, which I forgot to mention, is that you can bring your own goodies to the table. My family brought chips, cheese with guava paste, dips, and our own spirits! The drive is well worth it! I had friends from the bronx joins us!

Hope to see you next year!

Unknown said...

Anonymous, You just missed one in Brooklyn at El Puente; Free Food, vendor - holiday gifts and plenty Alegria Borinquena! We were there Saturday - El Puente is right off the Williamsberg Brigde. Pic & more info on Boricuation.com. See you next year!

Unknown said...

Anonymous - We were at a Paranda in Brooklyn at "El Puente" on Saturday (Just off the Williamsburg Bridge) and had an awesome time; free food, vendors and Puerto Rican Bomba Groups and dancers, included teens. Check them out for Next Year! Pics on Boricuation.com! Felicidades mi Gente!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I just went to see the movie "Nothing Like the Holidays". It was nothing like we expected. I actually thought it would just be another holiday story, but of course, of Puerto Rican. Nonetheless, it was exceptional. What we loved was the unity it presented at Christimas time. My husband and I are first born New Yorkrican generation. We were both born and raised in the South Bronx. Have two beautiful healthy boys and live in Upstate New York. We both cherish our heritage and bring the music, food and dance home. Yet, there are not enough "barrios" for Puerto Ricans in Upstate, New York. So of course, we always come back home, to the Bronx, to Spanish Harlem (my parents came straight to 112th and 116th from Puerto Rico). We've marched in the Three Kings parade en el Barrio. Well, while seeing this movie, I was inspired to look for a parjanda. We would love to join you next year. We would love to bring something to share as well. It's an experience my boys, all of us would be proude to participate.
Marisol Burgos, from Bloomingburg, New York