Despite heavy showers on and off throughout the afternoon, the 15th annual Cuban Day Parade of New Jersey marched through North Hudson on Sunday.
The parade, which began at 79th Street and Bergenline Avenue in North Bergen and ended on 43rd Street and Bergenline Avenue in Union City, honored one of its pioneers: Jesus “Manito” Perez.
Perez, who passed away last June at the age of 84, was a North Hudson icon, well-known for his furniture stores and senior daycare center.
Along the way, he received many awards from local, state and federal officials for his outstanding work in serving his community.
Additionally, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) was named “Cuban of the Year,” a title the former Union City mayor also received for last year’s festivities.
West New York Mayor Felix Roque was also recognized by the parade as Doctor, Mayor and Colonel of the Year. Roque works as a pain management specialist and is also a retired U.S. Army colonel.
In the midst of the Cuban Day Parade festivities last year, Roque referred to Menendez as “the superhero” of Hudson County and was dismissive of the federal corruption charges levied against the veteran politician last April.
Since then, the state Attorney General’s Office has accused Roque of participating in a $250,000 bribery/kickback scheme, but the mayor pleaded not guilty to the charges in July and, like Menendez, has since filed a motion to dismiss the charges.
Local businesses that purchased floats for the parade included La Havana 59, Oneida’s Dance Studio, Univision and El Especialito, to name a few.
Furthermore, safety was certainly not a major concern as there was a heavy presence from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the West New York and North Bergen Police Departments – including their SWAT units.
The laundry list of politicos on hand included North Bergen Mayor/state Senator Nick Sacco (D-32), Union City Mayor/state Senator Brian Stack (D-33), Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-32), Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari, Guttenberg Mayor Gerald Drasheff, West New York Commissioners Cosmo Cirillo, Sue Colacurcio and Margarita Guzman, Union City Commissioner Lucio Fernandez, North Bergen Commissioners Hugo Cabrera, Julio Marenco and Allen Pascual, Guttenberg Councilmen Wayne Zitt and John Habermann, North Bergen Freeholder Anthony Vainieri (D-8) – among many more.
Also joining the fun was former North Bergen mayoral hopeful Larry Wainstein, Sacco’s most definitive political adversary.
The successful business owner had his own float and at least a couple dozen supporters, including Police Sgt. Henry Marrero, join him in the walk down Bergenline Avenue.