On the 209th anniversary of the birth of Juan Pablo Duarte, the founder of the Dominican Republic, the court chambers of West New York’s Town Hall was filled with young dancers.
Three Dominican residents and their families were there to be honored by the town for their outstanding service to the community, and no fewer than seven young beauty queens were present from the Dominican-American Parade of Hudson County.
Hudson Countys residents are 60 percent Dominican, according to Commissioner of Public Affairs FiorD’Aliza Frias, who is herself Dominican, as are Commissioner Ruben Vargas and Superintendent of Schools John Fauta.
Union City Commissioner Tilo Rivas was also in attendance and was honored as part of the Hudson County’s flourishing Dominican community.
She told the story of Juan Pablo Duarte, a “visionary” who helped to found the Dominican Republic in 1844 and free the area from Haitian rule. Because Duarte faced many challenges presented by those holding conservative political beliefs, he became a sort of martyr for future generations of Dominicans. His ideas laid the foundation for the Dominican governments that followed.
“Historically, we are a prosperous and strong society,” she said in Spanish, “and nowhere is the Dominican community prouder than here in West New York.”