Every year, Dominican pride is celebrated in the Bronx during the Bronx Dominican Day Parade. This year, Dominicanos USA (DUSA) had the honor of participating in the parade and came out in full force to empower and register community members to vote. DUSA had a robust showing at the parade; approximately 120 people marched alongside the DUSA float including our Summer Youth Employment (SYEP) student group, DUSA canvassers and staff, and community members. Furthermore, we are happy to report that hundreds of people were registered by DUSA’s canvassers and SYEP members during the parade.

Karla Arroyo, a DUSA staff member, was particularly struck by the initiative many SYEP members showed throughout the parade. A SYEP member went out of their way to approach and register a group of four people, which as Arroyo noted is especially noteworthy because it can be a bit intimidating to approach a group of older people as an adolescent.

Once the ball got rolling and the parade started, the presence of Dominicanos USA was felt. This was made possible by the members of DUSA, singer Krisspy, and a float with the DUSA logo covered in glitter. DUSA’s national director, Jorge Mursuli, stated that this parade was incredibly motivating and his proudest moment was that DUSA got its message out. Additionally, as singer Krisspy was performing, he consistently reminded the crowd to vote by stating, “Registresen para votar, el que no vota, no cuenta! Registrate y ve a ejercer tu voto luego, para que tu voz sea más valiosa en este país. Dominicanos USA!” Krisspy proudly wore a DUSA T-shirt as he performed many of his renowned songs on the float. Mursuli noted that Krisspy was well received by the community, given his popularity among Dominicans, and the crowds’ excitement was both significant and contagious.

DUSA’s New York Director, Eddie Cuesta, was interviewed by Supercanal and Mundo Fox during the parade. The interviews focused on DUSA’s mission – to empower Dominican-Americans in the United States by registering, educating and mobilizing them to go out and vote. In addition, photos were taken by DUSA’s photographer throughout the parade, which captured the highlights of the event such as Krisspy’s performance, SYEP members holding up the Dominican flag and marching, and the rest of the DUSA community handing out flyers. The DUSA community got the word out by answering questions from community members who were interested in what we do, despite the heat and the 1.5 mile march.

One of the most humbling moments for Karla Arroyo was when her cousin (who had signed up to march with DUSA in the parade) informed her and DUSA’s New York Organizer, Omar Suarez, that New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s employee, Wendy Garcia, stated that  “DUSA is growing real fast, and they are doing their thing.” Arroyo stated that she felt proud to be a part of this growing organization.

New York Director Eddie Cuesta also shared his thoughts about the parade, stating that the parade and the community participation was extraordinary. He also stated that the public was especially receptive of the work DUSA is doing within the Dominican-American community.

In a brief interview with Pedro Aquino, event producer for Unlimited Media, spoke about how he identified with the message DUSA was spreading, and he noticed how the community identified with the message as well. He was impressed by DUSA’s impact within the community. Moreover, one of his most important observations was how the public and the media interacted with DUSA staff. He also enjoyed how Krisspy encouraged the community to vote with his music and his presence. Aquino walked away from the parade firmly believing that Dominicans will have more power if they vote.

Silvio Valentin, a member of the Bronx community, said that he was impressed by the amount of people who participated in DUSA’s float. Taken together, the float, Krisspy and the entertainment all contributed to the great impression that DUSA left on everyone. Valentin stated that DUSA’s participation was “exemplary.”