The Puerto Rican Day Parade is supposed to draw 2.8 million spectators to 5th Ave. in Manhattan this Sunday, making it one of the most popular annual parades in New York City. It's the 50th occurrence, so expect lots of enthusiasm from marchers, who will be heading north from 44th St. to 86th St. and entertained by Parade King Ricky Martin.

The size of the event is amazing, considering that the estimated population of Puerto Rico itself is just under four million people. Event organizers stressed that its a multi-cultural affair, however, and expect Mexicans, Dominicans, and "even the tourists from Europe" to join the party. Before 2005's event, Mayor Bloomberg asked 5th Ave. proprietors to respect the parade by not boarding up their businesses, claiming that it was insulting to marchers and those who came to see them. The Sun reports that this year, business owners along the route are unconcerned with damage to their property after the 2006 parade passed with little disruption, except perhaps for some jostling to get a good look at Jennifer Lopez, who was marching with her boyfriend Marc Anthony and Mayor Bloomberg.

The event finally seems to be living down the controversy generated during 2000's parade, when
Central Park "wildings" resulted in several woman being sexually assaulted, the attendant Law & Order treatment, and resentment and recriminations all around for years. NBC even promised never to re-air an episode of Seinfeld in which Kramer is shown stomping out the flames of an accidentally ignited Puerto Rican flag and then chased by angry parade goers.

The Puerto Rican Day Parade will run from 11am to 6pm Sunday on 5th Ave. from 44th St. to 86th St., so make any travel plans one might have in that area accordingly.

(Photograph of last year's Puerto Rican Day Parade by Boss Tweed on Flickr)