Now on the fifth anniversary of the New Jersey Cuban Day Parade, scheduled for June 6, the committee will pay special tribute to one of Cuba's most recognizable daughters with the dedication of the 31st Street and Bergenline Avenue Park in Union City in her honor.
During a 10:30 a.m. press conference held last Tuesday, May 25, the Latin American Kiwanis, hosts of the Cuban Day Parade, announced the list of events that will lead up to the celebration of the Cuban Day Parade. This will begin with the inauguration of Cruz's park, and the unveiling of her star and mural on June 3.
"The park took about six to seven months to construct," said Emilio Del Valle, founder of Desfile Cubano de New Jersey. "We started construction in January. Fleet Bank owned the property where the park is. Now it belongs to the city."
Possible hopes for the site would be to make it a walk of fame-type park, but for now it will be the home to a sidewalk star in her honor, there are four others around the world, and a mural paying homage to the late Celia Cruz.
According do Del Valle, discussions for the dedication of the park began around last year ever since they celebrated the naming of the street on Oct. 27 of last year.
The mural itself is about 8 x 10 feet in width and height, and is a collage of Celia's pictures from through out the ages. Focused in the center of the mural is the image of La Virgen de la Caridad (the Virgin Mary of Charity), the patron mother of Cuba. From this focal point, the other images spring out.
"It's a historical collage, you could say, of all her pictures," said Edgardo Davila of Union City, 33, the artist for the mural. "It's like a spiritual banner of her life."
The dedication of her mural will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, and will be followed by a special VIP party at Café Babalu.
"In August I designed it, and showed it to the committee" said Davila. "It took a day, to come up with the idea it took 2 weeks."
Among some of the people in attendance, other than the committee and city officials, will be Celia's husband, her manager Omer Pardillo, and Spanish singing sensation Lucrecia Perez. Perez is currently working with Pardillo. The committee is currently in negotiations for Perez to perform a little at the dedication of the mural and the star. In any event, Perez will be performing at the gala event on Friday, June 4.
Gala and parade
The gala event is being held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Secaucus, sponsored by the Latin American Kiwanis if Mid-Hudson. This will be the final event before the parade. Guests for the gala donated $175 per plate.
Finally, on June 6, the fifth annual Cuban Parade of New Jersey kicks off at 4 p.m. beginning on 79th Street and Bergenline Avenue, and ending on 35th Street and Bergenline. The parade will consist of 12 floats and include well known music, TV, and radio personalities. The grand marshals for this year's festivities will be infamous talk show personalities El Gordo y La Flaca (Raul de Molina y Lili Estefan).
Everyone is in invited to come and join in the festivities honoring the Cuban culture, and be a part of the special dedication for Celia Cruz.