Growing controversy surrounds Puerto Rican Day Parade

More controversy surrounds the upcoming Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Governor Cuomo announced he will not participate in the event. The question now- will Mayor de Blasio follow?

For many who support it, the Puerto Rican Day Parade is celebration of this community's soul.

What's at the heart of this annual event is overshadowed by the parade committee's decision to honor a single individual- Oscar López Rivera, a Puerto Rican nationalist.

His supporters described him as a political prisoner while critics called him a terrorist.

He was linked to a group that carried out deadly bombings in New York and other cities in the 1970s and 1980s - including an attack at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan that killed 4 people.

His inclusion led to several major sponsors from Goya, Univision, to the New York Yankees to pull out.

Governor Cuomo also recently announced he wouldn’t march.  

Parade organizers acknowledge that Rivera is an incredibly controversial figure - back in 1981, he was sentenced to 55 years in prison on a range of charges - including conspiracy to transport explosives with the intent of blowing up government property.

At 74-years-old, Lopez was never specifically convicted in any of the bombings.

He was released from prison early after President Obama commuted his sentence.

Despite growing political friction, Mayor de Blasio has not publicly withdrawn his support.

Bronx Council Member Richie Torres and Councilman Brad Lander are among 35 city elected officials who signed a pledge in support of the parade board's decision.

“Puerto Rico is worth celebrating in 2017 as it is in any other year and I want to be careful. Not to reduce it to one controversy,” said Torres.

At the pre-parade party, many had mixed feelings.

"He was a hero. He did a lot of community work. He paid his time,” said one pre-party goer.

“I don’t think it’s the right time to honor him, especially with all the terrorists attacks happening,” said another.