11th Annual Fish Parade highlights youth

Alicia Clarke

PS 48’s marching band at the 11th annual Fish Parade.

Hunts Point’s signature outdoor event kicks off summer

Saturday, June 21 was a perfect day to frolic in Hunts Point’s parks, as revelers celebrated the area’s odd combination of industry and community.

As it has done every year since 2004, the annual Hunts Point Fish Parade started at Hunts Point Riverside Park in the morning before wending its way through the streets of the peninsula to Barretto Point Park for the Summer Festival.

Youth Empowerment was the theme of this year’s parade, as organizers shone a spotlight on the talents of the area’s younger crowd.

“There are a lot of young people under 18 and we wanted to tap into their energy,” said Danny Peralta, director of programs at The Point CDC, which organizes the annual parade and activities.

Marching bands from PS 48, the Puerto Rican Day Parade Royalty Court and led the parade. Once the throng had arrived at Barretto Point Park, children were treated to face-painting and games while local residents performed music for the adults. Other community participants that entertained and donated included the House of Spoof Arts Collective, Vista Food Exchange, the Real Life Church, Tuck It Away Storage and Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education.

The students from PS 48, who served as this year’s grand marshals, showed off their skills to kick off the afternoon party in the park, followed by other performers, including theatre troupe Open Hydrant, which performed pieces from its repertoire .

Hunts Point resident Danielle Byrd  won a raffle that will allow her to send one of her six children to The Point’s after school free of charge.

“I love it,” said Byrd, adding she has attended the last three parades. “It’s a nice, organized time that I can bring my children to and feel safe out here in the park because the park is pretty far,” from the residential area.

This year’s event brought a celebrity to the peninsula. Former star New York Yankees pitcher Dwight “Doc” Gooden posed for photographs and signed autographs while urging the public to take advantage of free health screenings being offered.

The parade was originally devised a decade ago as a way to get people in Hunts Point’s residential areas to come out and protest the anticipated arrival of the new Fulton Fish Market, which the City moved to the neighborhood from lower Manhattan. A key part of local activists’ original idea was to show the positive impact small businesses have on the community.

Alicia Clarke

Partyers got up on stage to dance to salsa music at Barretto Point Park.

In the 11 years that the parade has been held, much has changed, including the location. At first the procession rolled down Hunts Point Avenue, and was complemented by an arts festival. It later evolved into an event more geared for the whole family.

But increasingly, the parade has become a way  “to create connections to the residential community,” said The Point’s executive director, Kellie Terry-Sepulveda.

The fact that economic powerhouses like the meat, fish and produce markets now collaborate with grass roots and neighborhood groups like Mothers on the Move and Sustainable South Bronx is a sign that there has been bonding between industry and community over the years, she added.

“All these organizations have really dedicated a lot of resources over many years to see stuff like this happen and we think this is a time to celebrate that and just come together, have fun and kick off summer,” said Terry-Sepulveda.

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