Boston’s Dominican Parade

We watched the tail end of Boston’s Dominican Parade Sunday afternoon on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. Loud and festive, the parading groups brought a lot of energy to the neighborhood. Dominican flags flew everywhere.

Drivers seemed to compete as to who could stack the most speakers on their car or van. At times, the loud music was nice, especially when dancers followed. But I didn’t understand why five cars in a row each blared a different song; all we heard was noise. Is it about the music or your speaker set-up?

Van covered with speakers

Costumes abounded: dragons, spirits, dancers, flag-carriers, and women of exaggerated proportions. I wish I knew the stories behind them.

Child and scary costume
This baby was not fazed by the man in the scary costume.

Woman of exaggerated proportions

Dancer in costume

Flag costume

Spirit costume

Some of the men in costumes carried heavy whips, which they loudly cracked up and down the street.

Costumed men with whips

Businesses sponsored their own floats. Here are Univision’s and Goya’s. Goya had a live band on theirs.

Univision float
Univision float
Goya float with live band
Goya float

Unfortunately, shady businesses like the local check-cashing place also had a presence. They employed young women to pass out brochures in Spanish.

Some of the parade participants just sat in their souped-up cars trying to look cool. It’s unclear to me what a brightly-painted tricked-out sports car has to do with Dominican pride. Soon enough, though, a troupe of dancers came through. These young women were especially good.

Young dancers

A few musical artists such as Rai and Mike Stanley took the opportunity to make themselves known, handing out free CDs with their music. Rai, on his float, loved the attention. Examples of their music on youtube: Rai’s single No Tengo and Stanley’s single Todo Menos Tu.

Artist Rai
Artists Rai and Mike Stanley

Dozens of politicans running in the upcoming mayoral and city council elections walked in the parade. Felix Arroyo, of Puerto Rican descent, had one of the larger contingents. A resident of Jamaica Plain, he spent so much time shaking hands that his group fell a whole city block behind the rest of the parade.

Felix Arroyo supporters
Felix Arroyo supporters

Marching in that contingent was Carlos Arredondo, peace activist and local hero.

Carlos Arredondo supporting the Arroyo campaign
Carlos Arredondo

We met one of the candidates running for city council at-large, Michelle Wu. We found her surprisingly sincere and down-to-earth.

Michelle Wu supporters
Michelle Wu supporters
Michelle Wu
Michelle Wu

My favorite image of the day: a minivan with plantains on its hubcaps.

Plantain hubcap

More photos of the parade from Andre on flickr.

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