2024 Sugar Cane Festival

The 20th Anniversary of Asociación Puertorrigueños en Marcha’s (APM’s) Sugar Cane Festival in Eastern North Philadelphia on June 1, 2024, was a remarkable event that celebrated the community’s rich history and cultural diversity. Here’s a recap of the memorable day:

Each year, the festival pays tribute to the Pennsylvania Sugar Refining Company, Philadelphia’s first sugar refinery, which began operations in 1881 and was later known as Jack Frost, after its acquisition in 1947. It was Jack Frost that attracted Puerto Ricans to the neighborhood because of their experience working in sugar refineries.

The event honored the 12,000 Puerto Rican workers who, during the 1950’s, migrated to Philadelphia, contributing to one of the largest Puerto Rican communities in the United States. The festival activated a stretch of Germantown Avenue, between Diamond Street and Susquehanna Avenue, where APM is planning to add a day care center and commercial/retail development, into a party with music, food and games, and a social resource fair with information on jobs, health care and financial supports.

APM also conducted its second annual dominoes tournament, preserving a cherished Caribbean pastime and enriching the local culture. Attendees enjoyed traditional treats like sugar cane pieces and samples of sugar cane juice called “Guarapo”, adding a sweet touch to the cultural experience.

The event featured vibrant, colorful performances with a parade and traditional dancing to the sounds of tambores, led by Los Bomberos de la Calle, “música Jíbara Puertorriqueña” by Los Dominantes, and the closing act by Zurdo Mezquita y su banda, which got the crowd dancing. The children played and wore festive costumes as they enjoyed the parade.

APM extends a heartfelt thanks to the many collaborators and sponsors for their beautiful setups, showcasing the plentiful and varied resources available to the community. The festival was APM’s testament to the enduring legacy of the sugar industry, and the vibrant Puerto Rican heritage that continues to shape Philadelphia’s identity. It was indeed a super sweet cultural experience!

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