PATERSON, NJ - More than 150 proud Dominicans gathered Saturday at Paterson City Hall to celebrate their country's flag raising ceremony and help start a series of week long festivities that will culminate with the 26th Annual Dominican Parade and Festival next Sunday, September 13.

This year's activities are dedicated to the Province of San Jose de Ocoa, in the Dominican Republic, a region less than 70 miles west of Santo Domingo, the country' capital. According to Ricardo Rodriguez, an invited journalist from Ocoa, the city of Paterson hosts an almost equal number of 'otoenos' residents than the Dominican town itself.

Mayor Jose 'joey' Torres" commended "the Dominican Parade and Festival distinguished Board of Directors led by the President Elsa Mantilla and Vice President Miguel Diaz and the entire Board for your hard work. It is not easy to maintain this level of work. You should feel honored as today we officially celebrate 26th anniversary of the Dominican Parade and Festival of New Jersey. Your dedication and love for your country offers the citizens of Paterson a glimpse of the beauty of Quisqueya, the mother of all lands..."

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Mrs. Mantilla received several proclamations from Mayor Torres and his wife, Ms. Sonia Torres; from City Council members led by Alex Mendez, Andre Sayegh, Ruby Cotton and Maritza Davila; and Carmen De Padua, on behalf of Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr.

"I humbly thank you all for being here and for all of the contributions that you have made for the Dominican Parade and Festival of New Jersey. I want to thank Mayor Torres that 26 years ago - and I will always say it every time I come to a podium, because good things that are done shall never be forgotten - that 26 years ago Mayor 'Joey' Torres with a group of Puerto Rican leaders shoulder to shoulder with me, started the Dominican Parade and Festival of New Jersey," stated the Parade's President Mantilla. "I want to thank and each and everyone of you human beings who make it possible that this parade happens every year in the great city of Paterson."

Mantilla took time to express her 'profound' thanks to the anonymous donor and 6th Ward Councilman Sayegh for making the connection with that contributor, when she was faced with economic hardship to complete these events this year.

Other activities during Dominican Republic Week in Paterson include an Annual Banquet Gala on Thursday, September 10, 2015 and the 26th Annual Parade on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015 at 12 noon, down Park Avenue and then Market Street from Vreeland Avenue to Clark Street and the Dominican Festival on Memorial Drive and Market St. after 3 pm.