Saturday’s Puerto Rican parade was canceled over safety concerns, festival officials announced Saturday morning just hours before the parade was set to begin.
Threats of violence from a local gang prompted the decision to halt the parade, said Katelyn Plonczynski-Cruz, a spokeswoman for the Puerto Rican Pride Parade of Rochester.
“I don’t want to cancel and have them sense that they have this type of power,” Plonczynski-Cruz said. “But I don’t want to risk everyone’s lives.”
The event was slated to start at 11 a.m. on North Clinton Avenue and travel to Upper Falls Boulevard across the Genesee River and to Innovative Field, where the 53rd annual Puerto Rican Festival will resume for its final day.
Officials said that they canceled the parade due to the violence taking place on North Clinton Avenue, including a fatal shooting that occurred early Saturday morning on North Clinton Avenue, near Don Samuel Torres Park. Five people were shot – one fatally – when a large crowd gathered in the area for the second straight night.
It has taken about a decade of negotiation with city officials to return the festival route to North Clinton Avenue for the first time since 1972, she said.
“This has taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” Plonczynski-Cruz said. “We were really hoping this wouldn’t happen.”
An impromptu car parade to Innovate Field did take place Saturday.
The parade is not run by the Puerto Rican Festival, according to Orlando Ortiz.
The parade will have an hour at the festival – from noon to 1 p.m. – where local artists who’d planned to be in the parade can perform.