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Philadelphia's Dominican community includes about 16,000 Dominican-born residents. 
Philadelphia's Dominican community includes about 16,000 Dominican-born residents. 

Celebrating Dominican pride in Philadelphia

Beginning in late July, the Dominican community of Philadelphia will hold its annual celebratory events to promote culture and recognize Dominican independence.

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The annual Dominican Parade & Festival has, for 18 years, gathered members of Philadelphia’s Dominican community in their shared, one-of-a-kind culture.

For Dominicans who have spent less time in the U.S., the celebration is a reminder of the native culture they grew up with, President of the Dominican Parade & Festival of Philadelphia Miguel Peralta said.

“But for the Dominican children that were born in this country, with this event they learn a bit about our culture,” Peralta said. “The cultural aspects that the community shares, for one or two months at least, unite us as a community.”

The community, which includes about 16,000 Dominican-born residents in the city, will hold its the Parade & Festival events beginning in the final week of July with the Miss República Dominicana contest, Gran Gala Dominicana and finally the Dominican Parade & Festival.

Every summer, Dominican communities across the U.S. organize festivals to celebrate both their culture and the Restoration of Dominican Independence, the historic August date in 1863 when the country, for a second time, won its freedom from the Spanish Empire. The events also recognize the July Revolution in the 19th century, which came during years of government turmoil and public unrest in the country following its initial independence.

The Miss República Dominicana de Filadelfia contest “de belleza quisqueyana - the indigenous Taíno phrase used to describe Hispaniola beauty - is July 29 at 4 p.m. in Tierra Colombiana on N 5th St. For the 2018 ceremony, two age groups of young Dominican girls and women, 7 to 10-year-olds and 16 to 21-year-olds will compete, representing different towns in the Dominican Republic. Event Director Elizabeth Sánchez, who took over the position in December, said that there are eight contestants total in the competition, which is being held for its 11th consecutive year.

Competing this year are: 

  • Naysha Taveras, representing Jarabacoa
  • Alicia Rivera, representing San Pedro de Macorís
  • Yarielia Valerio, representing Monción
  • Keishla Tejada, representing Santiago de Los Caballeros
  • Nhayelis Sepulveda, representing Constanza
  • Stefany Castro, representing San Francisco de Macorís
  • Crismeiris Reyes, representing La Vega
  • Jairimel Santillan, representing La Romana

The women and girls were born in the Dominican Republic, and now live and go to school in the Philadelphia region.

According to Sánchez, the event has also invited Latino musical artists Lizmar Encarnación, JL and La Vaina Merenguera. The winner of Miss República Dominicana will be named queen of the Dominican Parade & Festival, taking place on Aug. 19. Peralta said that the event committee hopes for around 5,000 people at the parade, which is held down Lehigh Avenue, ending at Front Street in North Philadelphia.

Additionally, he said each year organizers expect 150-300 attendees at the Gran Gala Dominicana, a more formal event to bring together leaders in the Dominican community. This year, the gala is on Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Milillo Event Group Townsend Room. More details will be posted and found on the group’s Facebook page in the days leading up to the events.

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