With banners waving and paper mache fish held high, some one hundred revelers took to the streets of Hunts Point on Saturday, June 17 for the fourteenth annual Fish Parade. The theme of this year’s parade, “We Are the Routes of Resilience,” highlighted residents’ enduring toughness in the face of familiar obstacles.
Protecting the local environment remains one of the key issues residents and advocates are mobilizing for. Lucia Hernandez, 61, a neighborhood outreach advocate for The Hunts Point Resiliency Project, said the community is watching to ensure government invests in cleaning the air and the water, and helps fortify the waterfront against flooding.
“It’s really important that people know where the money’s going to go,” said Hernandez. The Resiliency Project, which is based at The Point CDC, was created last year as a bridge between residents and planners and engineers who are looking to revitalize the peninsula while protecting it from storm surge. Hunts Point was spared serious damage in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy made land during low tide.
Residents are also showing their fight in organizing to protect themselves from being priced out of their homes as the neighborhood becomes increasingly attractive for developers. The Point is organizing local participation in a plan to build 740 new apartments, along with space for eateries, arts ventures and light industry on the 4.75-acre site on Spofford Avenue where the shuttered Bridges Juvenile Justice Center stands.
“We don’t want displacement,” said Maria Torres, president of The Point. “We want to see everybody who’s fighting right now continue to stay here and thrive here.”
After the paraders arrived at Barretto Point Park, groups that had participated showcased their costumes and banners. Saint Mary’s Dancers won first prize for best float, followed by Green Worker Cooperatives and Hyde Leadership Charter School.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer joined the throng when the parade made its final stop at Barretto. As it has every year since the event was conceived in 2004, the procession started at Hunts Point Riverside Park and wended its way through the streets of the peninsula before ending at Barretto.
“We need to involve all organizations like The Point and others, and we need to do it now because economic expansion is key,” Stringer said in a brief interview with The Express. “Protecting the people in the community who were here when no one wanted to invest in the Bronx” is critical, he added.