Along the parade route in the heart of Manhattan, people carried signs with tributes like "New York Stands with Puerto Rico, ' 'You will not be forgotten" and 'Decolonize Puerto Rico.' Many also waved Puerto Rican flags and danced as they made their way down Fifth Avenue.
"This year's Parade has particularly profound meaning as we continue to celebrate the best of who we are as a community while also providing a platform to continue to discuss the ongoing recovery, rebuilding, and renewal efforts in Puerto Rico", said Louis Maldonado, NPRDP Board Chair, ahead fo the parade.
"On this day of unity, we use our collective voice to remind the elected officials enthusiastically marching with us this Sunday that they also have a responsibility to advocate for policies that treat the over 8 million Puerto Ricans, regardless of whether they live stateside or on the island, like the USA citizens they are, with the dignity and respect everyone deserves in a time of crisis".
Parade-goers voiced frustration over an apparent under-reporting of the death toll in Puerto Rico and what they called a weak emergency response by President Trump's administration.
The official death count from the hurricane is 64, even though a recent study by Harvard University and Puerto Rico's Carlos Albizu University estimates that there were as many as 4,645 hurricane-related deaths, many of them attributable to the collapse of the electric power grid.
Julio Pabon led a group of demonstrators who chanted "Respect Puerto Rico" as it passed Trump Tower.
Cuomo said the death toll from Hurricane Maria stands at 4,500 - more than twice as many that died in Louisiana's infamous Hurricane Katrina - yet the amount earmarked by Washington to help fix the island's infrastructure has been paltry.
Cuomo has been an outspoken proponent of the need to help Puerto Rico after the September storm and is expected to take part in this year's event.
"Puerto Ricans are American citizens, we especially need to be there for them in their time of need", Pou told TAPinto Paterson continuing to say that there are still 100,000 people without electricity and 55,000 living in temporary shelters.
'Maria unmasked that we are a colony, ' said Pabon, 66, of the Bronx. That led some sponsors to withdraw their support and some politicians like Cuomo to decline to take part.
'They said, 'Great. We can work on our tans.' And I said, 'Not exactly.