This year, the Puerto Rican community celebrated its second Annual Puerto Rican Parade and Festival in Downtown Orlando, FL. The parade was incredible–two hours of energetic music, colorful floats, beautiful bomba y plena dancers, and a sea of proud Puerto Rican flags. Mickey and Minnie also made an appearance in their horse drawn carriage and were followed closely behind by the Disney VoluntEARS, consisting of members of the Walt Disney World Diversity Resource Groups. As the president of HOLA (Hispanic Organization for Leadership Advancement and Allies), I was thrilled when we were invited to participate in the festivities and knew that getting a chance to celebrate the Puerto Rican community would align perfectly with our goals. HOLA promotes Hispanic/Latino heritage and cultural exchange between all Cast Members and encourages professional and personal development opportunities for its members. The celebration continued after the parade with a festival consisting of Puerto Rican food, music and cultural presentations.
With the growing Puerto Rican population in Central Florida, Disney has continued to provide support to the Puerto Rican community, and this is just another example. Personally, it was great to experience this event and it was such an honor representing HOLA, but what made it better was being able to share the experience with my twelve-year-old daughter. She really loved being able to lead the parade as we held the Disney VoluntEARs banner, but more importantly, she also enjoyed seeing and being a part of a Hispanic culture different than her own. That’s what Disney does: it brings people and families of all cultural backgrounds together to celebrate as one.