A Dominican Republic flag hung out of the open trunk of a Honda Sunday, moving to the pounding beat of a bassline blasting through the dozens of speakers above and behind it. Cars blared music while onlookers, some holding flags, danced the merengue on the sidewalks.
“We like our music loud,” said Arlene Ovalle-Child, as she watched the Dominican parade from outside her home.
The 34th Dominican Festival of Boston featured a 2.7-mile parade in the Hyde Square neighborhood of Jamaica Plain that began on Centre Street and ended on Walnut Avenue. The festival celebrates Restoration Day, a holiday that commemorates the start of the Dominican Restoration War that began on Aug. 16, 1863. Two years later, the Dominican Republic restored its independence from Spain, who had occupied the country since 1861.
This was Yvette Gonzalez’s first year as coordinator of the festival, and she said she was so nervous before the start of the parade that she cried.
But by the end, Gonzalez, who immigrated to America from the Dominican Republic in 1989, had found her cool in the 80-degree heat.
“Now I’m happy,” the 59-year-old said. “Because I know the parade was great.”
Ovalle-Child has lived along the parade route for the past 11 years. She doesn’t have to walk far to celebrate her heritage with her two daughters.
“I’ve only been able to take them to Dominican Republic once,” the 36-year-old said. “So for one day they get to kind of experience a little bit of the culture, right in front of their home, which is really special.”
Ovalle-Child, a Spanish professor at Simmons University, said she likes to expose her students to Latin American culture and appreciates that the parade “is an opportunity for neighbors that aren’t from the culture to see a little bit of it.”
Marcher Rene Gomez said he began advocating for his country’s history “out of anger.”
“We felt that our community was losing touch with its roots,” he said. “As you can see, it’s all about music and this and that. Nobody brings anything traditional or historic to the plate. So that’s what we try to bring.”
Gomez was dressed as Matías Ramón Mella, one of the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic. Marching with him were women dressed as “faceless dolls,” a traditional souvenir from the Dominican Republic.
“The reason they have no face is because Dominicans come in all shapes and sizes and different colors,” said Gomez, 43. His group, representing the Hispanic United Development Organization, drove up from Providence, R.I., for the parade.
Yanitza Rosado, dressed as a faceless doll, said that as she marched in the parade wearing a long pink dress and carrying a sunflower, onlookers took notice.
“Muñeca!” they would call out, shouting the Spanish word for doll.