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Crowds celebrate Haitian culture at annual parade

People danced to live music during the Haitian Heritage Month's Haitian-American Unity Parade on Sunday in Mattapan.
People danced to live music during the Haitian Heritage Month's Haitian-American Unity Parade on Sunday in Mattapan.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

As clouds cleared out and sunshine filled the city Sunday afternoon, crowds of people waved flags and cheered in Mattapan to celebrate Haitian-American and the Caribbean country’s culture.

“At the beginning we thought the rain was going to change everything, but in the end we didn’t have any rain and we could really enjoy it,” said Wilner Auguste, one of the founders of Haitian-Americans United Inc., which organizes the annual celebration. The event included a parade Sunday afternoon and a flag raising at City Hall on Saturday.

The organization promotes Haitian culture and supports the thousands of Haitians in Massachusetts, said Dieufort Fleurissaint, the chairman of the organization. The weekend celebrations came in the middle of Haitian Heritage Month.

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“It represents the hope that Haitians and Haitian-Americans have for a better Haiti,” he said of the parade, adding that the country recently has gone through turbulent times since the 2010 earthquake.

A number of local politicians, including Mayor Martin J. Walsh, joined parade-goers.

“This parade is about celebrating Haitian independence, and a great tradition that happens every year here in Mattapan,” Walsh said in a statement. “The community from all over Massachusetts comes here and celebrates. This parade is something that I’ve done for a long time, and the Haitian community in Boston is the third-largest Haitian community in the country so celebrating and supporting the Haitian community is important.”

More people need to know what is happening in the Haitian community to encourage and support each other, and such celebrations help, said Rodelaire Octavius.

“The purpose is not only to gather the Haitians,” he said. “[But] so that we can work together for a better education of our kids and to remind us of our culture -- where we came from and to work toward economic empowerment.”

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Alejandro Serrano can be reached at alejandro.serrano@globe.com.