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Week-Long Events Celebrate Puerto Rican Heritage in County

by William Sokolic

The Puerto Rican Festival in Cumberland County returns for the 56th year the last week of July. Think about it. The fest, celebrating all things Puerto Rican, debuted in 1968, with the goal over the years of enlightening community and youth about Puerto Rican heritage, culture and ethical values. Only a time out for two years of Covid-19 interfered.

What better time for the El Festival Puertorriquena de New Jersey to once again return? The festival occurred in 2022 as well.

“Our greatest achievement is bringing the Puerto Rican community together and then some because we celebrate all cultures and invite every Latino to join us every year,” says Leonides Negron, committee president, Puerto Rican Festival of New Jersey.

Over the years, tens of thousands have attended the festival.

That the festival has been around more than five decades reflects the importance of the Puerto Rican community to Vineland, says Mayor Anthony Fanucci.

“They have played a significant role in building this city on so many levels. They are a part of the beautiful fabric of our community, everything from food, to architecture, to the arts, and public service as well, both with our first responders and as part of municipal government,” Fanucci said.

Truth be told, the city has been enriched by a Hispanic community that includes more than just those of Puerto Rican heritage, he said. Some 30.2 percent of the population in Cumberland County is Hispanic or 46.3 thousand people, according to based on 2020 figures.

“Our city’s diverse Hispanic community, which includes families from Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and more, represents a very powerful economic force,” Fanucci said. “Through their hard work and entrepreneurial spirit, they have made important contributions to the quality of life we enjoy, enhanced our economic vitality, and strengthened our long-term economic competitiveness.”

Negron believes the strength of the Puerto Rican community has been a factor in the community’s relationship with the island.

“We are proud of our roots and our heritage; that is why we are so bonded. Our island has made Puerto Rican communities strong because they have led by example and always keep faith during devasting hurricanes and earthquakes. The Puerto Ricans who remained on the island never showed defeat, they just rebuilt. That is a true definition of leading by example,” Negron says.

The festivities begin July 23 and continue through July 30, closing with a parade that takes place from Landis Avenue and Delsea Drive in Vineland to Landis Park with live entertainment, raffles, and rides.

The festival always has different activities. Arts and crafts for kids. Open mic night for teens. Folkloric music for the seniors. Different genres of Hispanic music for all Latinos to come out and enjoy.

“We have Zumba and a car show. We have cultural dances that get presented at senior homes,” Negron says.

The festival receives assistance from the Cumberland County Heritage Commission, the city of Vineland, and various committees and volunteers.

“We celebrate week-long activities. This would not be possible if not for our sponsors. Come out for a free, local, family-oriented event, based on culture and heritage,” says Negron. “Its appeal goes beyond the borders of Cumberland County.”

Highlights of the 56th Puerto Rican Festival in Cumberland County

  • Sunday, July 23

    • Vineland City Hall. Puerto Rican flag raising 1 p.m.
  • Monday, July 24
    • Millville, Buck and Main streets flag raising 12:30 p.m.
    • Bridgeton, Cumberland County Court House, 60 West Broad Street flag raising 5 p.m.
    • Service at Ecumenical Service Assembly of God Church, Third and Quince streets 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 27
    • Kids Day, 4 to 6 p.m.
    • Teen Night, 7 to 10 p.m.
    • Rides begin at 5 p.m.
  • Friday, July 28
    • Folkloric Day, 5 to 11 p.m.
    • Rides begin at 5 p.m.
  • • Saturday, July 29
    • Car show, 12 noon to 6 p.m., parking lot in Landis Park
    • International Day, 5 to 11 p.m.
    • Rides begin at 12 noon
  • • Sunday, July 30
    • Parade at 1 p.m.
    • Closing ceremonies
    • Rides begin at 12 noon