Puerto Rican Day parade draws thousands despite controversy

It was a celebration of national pride.

Thousands lined Fifth Avenue for the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Months of controversy did not seem to put a damper on Sunday's event.

Floats came down Fifth Avenue, but one was particularly controversial- Front and center stood Oscar Lopez Rivera, and while the nationalist was not honored, he was certainly praised by many.

“He did a lot for fighting for us, for our freedom, our independence, and a lot of people don't understand that,” said one parade goer.

Rivera was denounced as terrorist by some, while others hailed him as a hero.

The Puerto Rican nationalist served 35 years behind bars in connection to a terror network that carried out more than 100 bombings in the 70's and 80's, including one in Manhattan, which killed 4 people.

Rivera was commuted, not pardoned, by President Obama.

While politicians like Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted Lopez Rivera would not be honored, signs of praise flooded Sunday’s parade.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito fought for Lopez Rivera to be honored in the parade despite sponsors pulling support, floats cut down by half, and politicians like Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Chuck Schumer not attending in protest.

Scott stringer, comptroller

Despite the lack of consensus, many said putting politics aside and embracing Puerto Rican culture is what it’s really all about. 

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