By Saira Toppin
The second weekend in August is the date for OPP’s (Organization for Progressive Panamanians) Annual Parade and Festival in Mount Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The park is located in Park Slope, in between the Central Library (Grand Army Plaza) and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Down the block east and west, you can find Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum. This year, the festival was on August 8th and 9th.
For ten years, OPP has been having their annual festival in the park, also known as “La Feria” in Spanish. La Feria celebrates unity, culture, and food. Year after year, hundreds of Panamanians, Caribbeans, and other warm New Yorkers pile into Mount Prospect to buy Fritura (Empanadas, Hojaldre: fried beef patties and dough), watch live performances, and even enjoy a short Sunday service if they have to miss church. This special weekend is about connecting with family and friends that you have not seen in awhile since you know they will be in the park on these two days!!
The parade is held only on Saturday and usually begins at 12. It starts at Empire Blvd and New York Ave to Washington Ave and continues into the park. The parade features marching bands from New York with added members from California, Atlanta, and Panama bands. There are also folkloric groups, local politicians, and community organizations who parade for the onlookers. This year, four pageant winners were featured in the parade including Miss Panama US Teen.
This year, I traversed the park with what I now call the Entourage, a group of close girlfriends. We circled the park many times looking for cute guys, duritos (slushies with canned sweet milk), and the right spot to view the scenery. My cousin spotted one guy and when I went to make the introduction she bailed. Boo hoo! We found no guys, the durito line was excessive, and we found a lame spot to people watch.
This yearly event is one not to miss. If you can make it out to Brooklyn to have a good time with good people then mark your calendars from now. August 13th and 14th 2010!! I hope to see you there.
Photographs taken by Luis Vaz. For more photos from this event contact him at email@example.com