"The National Puerto Rican Day Parade has always been an occasion to celebrate the many contributions Puerto Ricans have made to this country", said Melissa Mark-Viverito, campaign director for the Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition.
This year's 61 annual celebration was unlike any other with spectators looking to celebrate their heritage and spotlight Puerto Rico's hardships and lagging support the island has received following the devasting effects of Hurricane Maria.
Also on hand was a marching contingent made up of people who are on the USA mainland only because they were displaced from their homes on the island.
Ortiz, 53, of Brooklyn, and other paradegoers voiced frustration over what they said was an underreporting of the death toll in Puerto Rico and a tepid emergency response by the administration of President Trump.
Some marchers in the crowd, as The New York Post noted, wore black T-shirts with the number 4,645 on them, referring to the hurricane's estimated death toll according to a recent Harvard University study, as opposed to the government's official count, 64.
The event, which will feature an appearance from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), will take place on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
Some demonstrators chanted "Respect Puerto Rico" as the parade passed Trump Tower. Cuomo has been an outspoken proponent of the need to help Puerto Rico after the September storm.
Cuomo said the death toll from Hurricane Maria stands at 4,500 - more than twice as many that died in Louisiana's infamous Hurricane Katrina - yet the amount earmarked by Washington to help fix the island's infrastructure has been paltry. "I'm just exhausted of the way my island has been treated".
This year's parade comes a year after a controversial one, when the parade organization chose to recognize Oscar Lopez Rivera, a former member of a militant group responsible for a series of bombings.
"We've never been in this kind of situation before and we don't want to reach this point", she said.
"It makes me feel sad that still to this day there's people without electricity, still without water, roads are really bad - I was just there in April and the conditions are still bad", one parade-goer said.
'They said, 'Great. We can work on our tans.' And I said, 'Not exactly.
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