The Caribbean nation was freed from Haitian rule on February 27, 1844.
“To all the Dominicans that are here today and that live in Union City, thank you for making Union City your home. Thank you for being such a hard working people,” says Commissioner Maryury Martinetti.
It’s an opportunity to honor and celebrate.
“The sweat and the blood and the tears shed by the people that really risked their lives for Dominican independence,” says resident, Eli Bueno.
The Dominican Republic commemorates 172 years of independence.
“So Dominicans here in Union City consider this as a special date, special occasion to say the best praise to the Dominican Republic,” says Commissioner Tilo Rivas.
Union City is a true melting pot that recognizes its diversity.
“Didn’t know that they would do this for Dominicans or for any Hispanic groups in Union City but it’s amazing,” says ROTC member Maria Pepin. “It’s really nice to have that.”
And the celebration continued later in the evening and the passion for their community was evident.
“‘Cause even you are here in United States, we are Dominican,” says resident, Ligia Marte. “Wherever you go, we are Dominican and we have to be there for Dominican people.”
“And people can know about us… our culture, music, food,” adds actress Wanda Ferreiras.
Union City is one of the most densely populated cities in the United States.
“I would say about 90 percent is Hispanic,” says Director of Cultural Affairs, Lucio Fernandez. “Out of that 90 percent, maybe 20 percent is Dominican.”
When it comes to embracing their culture, they consider Brian Stack one of them.
“He’s not Union City mayor, he’s Dominicano and that’s the only thing I have to say. He loves Dominicano and we love him,” Marte says.
And they take pride in their heroes — like Juan Pablo Duarte, who paved the way.
“It’s been so many years enjoying freedom is a great thing,” Rivas says.