Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans gathered on the Fifth Avenue on Manhattan Island Sunday on the 50th anniversary of a traditional parade in memory of their homeland.
The parade started at 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue and ran all the way up to 86th Street.
Pop star Ricky Martin, named king of the parade, joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg for a ceremonial ribbon cutting before ascending a float that promoted the Ricky Martin Foundation, which advocates child welfare around the world.
"I think the most impressive thing is that people love to be living here and be part of New York and be New Yorkers; at the same time, they're very proud of their heritage, of where they come from, " Bloomberg said. "And that's what makes this country unique among countries."
Two other famous Puerto Rican singers made a surprise appearance on MTV's float meant to carry an absent and ill reggaeton rapper Daddy Yankee. Bronx-born Jennifer Lopez and husband Marc Anthony, were greeted by more screams.
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Puerto Rican Gov. Anibal Acevedo- Vila joined Bloomberg at the head of the parade. Senator Charles Schumer, megaphone in hand, urged the crowd in Spanish to wave their red, white and blue Puerto Rican flags.
A contingent from Ponce, Puerto Rico's second-largest city after San Juan, marched in ruffled Carnival costumes called vejigantes.
The idea for the parade first developed in the early 1950s and was a pan-Latino affair at the time. It later became a solely Puerto Rican parade.
Some 2.1 million Hispanics live in New York, where Puerto Ricans are the largest Hispanic group, numbering 789,000, according to city figures.