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Eastern sends its first float to Puerto Rican Day Parade

Published on October 11, 2023

Eastern sends its first float to Puerto Rican Day Parade

parade float
Eastern's float was designed by Tim Golebiewski (holding coffee), lighting technology specalist, and engineered by Jason Wadecki (gray sweatshirt), technical director, both with the Department of Communication, Film and Theatre. Students helped build it.

For the first time Eastern Connecticut State University entered a float and sent a delegation of 50 students and staff to the Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade on Oct. 8. It is Hartford’s biggest annual parade, and more than 20,000 people attended this year.

The Eastern marchers handed out Eastern t-shirts, water bottles and lanyards to the crowd. They also threw out fliers about the Hartford Promise and TheDream.US programs at Eastern in an effort to promote the University's inclusive culture for students from underrepresented backgrounds.

“The goal was to get our name out there,” said Christina Irizarry, assistant director of Opportunity Programs, who organized the Eastern presence.

Eastern's delegation at the Puerto Rican Day Parade

It was Eastern's first year to send a float and delegation to the parade.

The float passes the Colt Building in Hartford.

Christina Irizarry, left, assistant director of Opportunity Programs, organized Eastern's group.

Members of the Organization of Latin American Students and students involved in Opportunity Programs and Hartford Promise at Eastern were among the marchers. Nine student volunteers from the Center for Community Engagement attended the parade to work on safety and line control. 

A volunteer with the Hartford Promise program, which offers scholarships to Hartford students, Irizarry has also been a longtime volunteer with the Connecticut Institute for Community Development (CICD), the host for the annual parade. At last year’s parade, she walked with the Hartford Public Schools group and made a commitment to get an Eastern contingent in the parade this year. 

“Mark us down – we’ll be there,” she said.

President Elsa Núñez helped the group get a float, she said. Next year Irizarry would like to add an Eastern table at the Festival del Coqui that is held in Bushnell Park after the parade.

“My goal is to do this every year,” said Irizarry.

Written by Lucinda Weiss