KISSIMMMEE – Joey Mollfulleda has plenty of reasons to be excited about the events coming up during the weekend of July 22-24, but probably his greatest enthusiasm is for the sense of history in the making.
“This is the first year,” he said. “We are making history. Osceola County has never had a Puerto Rican parade, and we’re basing this on the New York and Chicago parade models. So this is a big event for Osceola County.”
Even better, Mollfulleda said, is “I just got a confirmation today that Puerto Rico Philharmonic Orchestra is going to be at the business expo.”
Mollfulleda, the marketing account executive of The Cultural Center of Puerto Rico in Kissimmee and a member of the parade committee, said it’s with great pride that the center is sponsoring the first annual Puerto Rican Day Parade, Festival, Business Expo, Health Fair and Gala event this month, starting on Friday, July 22 and going for three days. It’s the inaugural event for what the Center hopes will become an annual one. It will be held at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, and the Center is still looking for businesses that want to participate.
“It’s going to be a business expo, and it’s going to be a health fair, too,” he said. “We’re going to have food, we’re going to have health companies that are going to be there doing free screenings for the people, and it’s free parking and free entrance.”
Osceola County Commissioner John Quinones will be presenting a proclamation to the Cultural Center, and the week of July 18 will be proclaimed Puerto Rican Week.
“There are so many Puerto Ricans in Osceola County,” he said, and many of them are starting businesses here and creating jobs. Mollfulleda runs his own business, Promociones Cultura Y Herencia Hispana, in Poinciana, a music and festival promotions company.
Jeanette Coughnour, manager of the Association of Poinciana Villages, the homeowners association in Poinciana, noted that Poinciana hosts its own Hispanic cultural event each year.
“We’ve had now for several years in a row a very large Hispanic festival that takes place in the park, and it’s enormous,” she said, “with food and entertainment, and stuff geared toward children, and dancing. It’s a regular Hispanic festival that we have here in Poinciana, and it’s huge.”
The Fourth Annual Hispanic Heritage Festival was held last Oct. 17 at Vance Harmon Park, and this event has drawn more than 13,000 people annually.
Mollfulleda hopes the Puerto Rican parade draws just as strong a crowd. The weekend kicks off on Friday, July 22 with a black tie event at OHP. Tickets are $35 with food being served and a performance by the Philharmonica Orchestra.
“Imagine, we have 28 bands, and most of them are coming from Puerto Rico, donating their services, and then we have 58 bands from (local) schools that are going to be marching in the parade, which will go for 2 ½ miles,” Mollfulleda said. “The parade will enter the Heritage Park grounds, then the whole festival will be held there. It’s going to be indoors and outdoors.”
Floats for the parade start setting up at 8:30 that morning, and the festival runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days.
“It’s a whole-day event,” he said. “It’s making history in Florida because it’s the first one. We’re dedicating the parade to the 65th Infantry Regiment, the ‘Borinqueneers’ that served our country as the only totally Puerto Rican infantry. They survived the Korean War by themselves with no weapons. There are still a bunch of survivors of the Korean War in the Osceola County area, and there is a highway in Puerto Rico dedicated to them.”
Anyone who wants to get involved, he added, still has time to get on board.
“We are still looking for some local busineses to participate in the parade,” he said. “They have to go through me. They have another three days to close on the deal. This is an opportunity to showcase your business on stage.”
To learn more, call Mollfulleda at 407-301-3760 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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