Grabbing the shoulders of another marcher in this year’s Ecuadorian Day Parade on Aug. 13, West New York Mayor Felix Roque laughed and said, “I’m not Ecuadorian, but they are. This is their day.”
Observing Ecuadorian Independence Day in Union City and West New York has become a joyful and colorful tradition, filled with song, dance, and even a few stars from Latino television.
Led by Roque, State Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, and other officials, the parade made its way down Bergen Line Avenue on Sunday to a reviewing stand near 40th Street, where beauty queens, community groups, and Ecuadorians from nearby towns created an amazing spectacle and helped celebrate Ecuador’s equivalent of the United States’ Fourth of July.
The festival leading up to it took place over a number of days, starting with a flag raising in Union City on Aug. 10. The parade included floats sponsored by local business, and musicians, and dancers that reflected authentic traditions.
Independence Day in Ecuador is always on Aug. 10 and celebrates independence from Spain in 1822, after nearly 300 years’ occupation.
Ecuadorians also mark the first revolt against the Spanish in 1809, which began an uprising that lasted more than a decade.
Union City has the third highest population of people of Ecuadorian descent in the state, with more than 4,000, and West New York is home to more than 2,000, according to Census data.
“It’s a wonderful day,” said Roque, who is of Cuban heritage. But, he noted, many people from various nationalities mingle during the various celebrations, calling the festival a celebration of life.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.