The First Puerto Rican Day Parade in Hartford

Elena Marie Rosario, M.A.
Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Michigan


Historical Background

In 1964, a group of Hartford Puerto Rican community members organized the first Puerto Rican Day Parade in the state. Community leaders María Colón Sánchez and José Cruz Vázquez, the parade’s first president, were among this pioneer group. Sunday, October 4, 1964, was declared “Puerto Rican Day” by Connecticut Governor John Dempsey. In addition to honoring the state’s population, which began to form in the Postwar Era, the parade aimed to encourage voter registration and the participation of Puerto Ricans in upcoming elections. Newspapers place the number of spectators that day at 20,000! The Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival is an example of how Puerto Ricans entered social, cultural, and political spaces in Hartford and Connecticut more broadly.

D1: Potential Compelling Question

Why is it important that groups can celebrate their cultural and ethnic backgrounds in America?


  • How is the Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival a part of Connecticut state history?
  • What was the purpose of the First Puerto Rican Day Parade?
  • What does Puerto Rican Day tell us about the state of Connecticut in 1964? What about Hartford?



  1. Opening Discussion:
    What kind of parades have you attended in person or watched on television? What did the parade celebrate? What do you remember most about these parades?
    Do you, your family or friends do anything special to celebrate your cultural heritage?
  2. Observe the images (sources #1 and #2) and answer the following questions:
    What do you notice first?
    How would you describe this image?
    What do you think is going on in the image?
    What questions do you have about the image?
  3. Teacher will read the first newspaper article (source #3) aloud and model how to take notes or pull out important information.
  4. Students will read the short highlighted section from another newspaper article (source #4) on their own and discuss the who, what, where, when, why, and how.
  5. Closing Discussion:
    What do these images and newspaper articles reveal about the past?
    What does it tell us about the Puerto Rican community in Connecticut?


  • Visit the gallery of “Past Parade Photos” on the Puerto Rican Parade website.
    Select a few images.
    Ask students to compare and contrast images of the parade from the 1960s and 2000s.
  • Talk with someone in your family or community about their experience with your town’s parades or cultural celebrations:
    When and where was the parade or celebration?
    What was your experience? What did you see? What do you remember most about it?
    Tell them something you learned about the first Puerto Rican Day Parade.
  • Design a parade float that highlights places, people, and things from your hometown and share it with a friend.


Place to GO

Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library, 500 Main Street, Hartford

Connecticut Museum of Culture and History, 1 Elizabeth Street, Hartford

Things To DO

Check out the next Puerto Rican Day parade in the state!

Learn more about the history of cultural celebrations and events in your city/town.


Websites to VISIT

Articles to READ