(above) The 8th Annual Bolivian Parade made it's away from Hamilton Park to City Hall on Grove Street this Saturday. Over 13 group's participated in this year's festivities. Photo: Rich McCormack for The Jersey Journal
Bolivian parade in Jersey City a show of color, dance, and music
By Jean-Pierre Mestanza/The Jersey Journal
Every time one of the 50 dancers came up to Julie Grajeda, it was the same routine: poor water on their heads, offer them a sip, move on to the next one.
With the weather at a sunny 83-degrees, the group of dancers is just one of 13 organizations that plan on dancing the nearly entire 12-block route from Hamilton Park to City Hall on Grove Street during the 8th Annual Bolivian Parade.
"They need to stay hydrated, they are constantly moving the whole time with these heavy costumes and they lose liquids very easily in there," said Grajeda, whose dance group "Ruphay" made their way from Virginia to participate.
Each group's "float" is led by a truck carrying large speakers in the trunk, followed by a large group wearing elaborate costumes dancing away at the blaring music.
(below) The Diablada group wears masks to represent their dance as a battle between good and evil at the 8th Annual Bolivian Parade in Jersey City. Photo: Rich McCormac for The Jersey Journal
Each group is dressed in costumes representing an aspect of Bolivian history, culture, and mythology. For instance, the "Diablada" groups wear large devil-looking masks and dance with women wearing colorful tunics and ponchos as a symbol of good and evil.
Rich McCormac for The Jersey JournalThe Diablada group wears masks to represent their dance as a battle between good and evil at the 8th Annual Bolivian Parade in Jersey City
Various city and state officials were on hand, including Councilman Ray Velasquez and Executive Director of the state's Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development Abraham Lopez.
"I just came out to see what the sound was, but I can't say I've ever seen anything like this- I feel like I'm in carnival," said Stew Harrison, 44, of Newark Avenue, who watching the parade from the stoop of his house.
According to Susy Herrera, Vice President of Centro de Residentes Bolivianos de New Jersey- the organizers of the parade, the event started eight years ago as a religious procession for the Virgin of Copacabana, the patron saint of the Bolivia, in Downtown Jersey City.
It has evolved from inviting one group the first year, to about 13 groups this year, and is currently the only Bolivian parade in the state of New Jersey, Herrera said.
Paying tribute to their origins, the parade is led by a woman carrying the image of the Virgin of Copacabana.
"It's amazing we live in a country where we can demonstrate our culture and share it with people in the streets like this," Herrera said.