Annual Puerto Rican parade to cut through downtown Kissimmee for the first time

In the article titled “First Puerto Rican parade coming to Kissimmee while island is still in recovery mode published on July 26, the News-Gazette would like to make the following corrections . The 2018 Puerto Rican Parade, it is being coordinated by the nongroup Desfile Puertoriqueño de Osceola, not  government of Puerto Rico. It is

In the article titled “First Puerto Rican parade coming to Kissimmee while island is still in recovery mode published on July 26, the News-Gazette would like to make the following corrections .

The 2018 Puerto Rican Parade, it is being coordinated by the nongroup Desfile Puertoriqueño de Osceola, not  government of Puerto Rico.

It is also not the first parade; it is the seventh annual parade. And it is not on Sept. 8, it is on Sept. 9 at the Kissimmee lakefront.

The following version is the corrected version below:

While Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, organizers of the local Puerto Rican Parade want to promote the island’s spirit.

The seventh annual parade will make its first-ever route through the heart of downtown Kissimmee on Sept. 9.

The city, along Osceola County and the region at large, have been a refuge for weary storm victims from Puerto Rico.

The hurricane drove thousands of the island’s residents to the mainland, many of whom came to Central Florida. Some have returned, others have relocated here and still others are on the verge homelessness.

Displaced Puerto Ricans still living in motels last month almost lost their temporary shelter assistance funds, which are distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, its residents are U.S. citizens and FEMA is overseeing recovery efforts.

While the island and its people work to get back normal, the upcoming parade will highlight the best of Puerto Rican entertainment and businesses — emblematic of the cultural and economic ties between the island and Florida.

The 2018 Puerto Rican Parade is being organized by Desfile Puertoriqueño de Osceola.

“¡Dedicated to Puerto Rico!” reads a flyer for the event, sponsored by local businesses and government including the City of Kissimmee, Kissimmee Utility Authority, the national advocacy group Hispanic Federation, Melao Bakery and others.

The Sept. 9 parade along Main Street will culminate with a festival at Kissimmee Lakefront Park that will include musical performances, vendors and information booths from local governments, businesses and private organizations.

The seventh annual event also includes the Borikén Awards for community service. The word Borikén, meaning Puerto Rican, is a native Taino word from which the more common spelling is Borinquen. A beauty contest and health fair are also part of the festivities.

For decades, Puerto Ricans have been moving to Central Florida and investing in the community. Kissimmee is home to one of the largest Puerto Rican enclaves in the U.S. and has a population that’s about 60 percent Hispanic.

However, the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration earlier this year moved its office from downtown Kissimmee to Orlando and was recently assigned a new director. The PRFAA was established to facilitate business connections between the island and the U.S. and does not typically help individual Puerto Ricans.

Many from the island came to Central Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, in part, because of family and business connections. Teachers, doctors and other professionals coming from the island and re-establishing their lives here has caused a “brain drain” on the island, according to some experts.

The sudden influx of storm evacuees in Osceola County has strained local government resources. The Osceola County School District, which absorbed upwards of 1,500 school-age children from Puerto Rico during the 2017-18 school year, is just one example.

The area’s affordable housing shortage has for years taken a toll on working-class residents, particularly those without savings and good credit. Storm refugees have also increased demand for affordable rent and home prices.

Local, state and federal government officials from Florida have been working on solutions.

Meanwhile, the upcoming parade in Kissimmee is the second in the region this year after the Puerto Rican Parade in downtown Orlando in April.

Those interested in participating in the Puerto Rican Parade in Kissimmee can go to “Desfile Puertorriqueño de Osceola” on Facebook or call 407-334-6450 or 407-201-6465 for more information.