Thousands in Waterbury will help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — An annual festival used to promote unity and celebrate diversity will now also help people in Puerto Rico hit hard by Hurricane Maria.

“That’s amazing,” said Angel Cruz. “That’s such a generous thing.”

Angel has family in Puerto Rico. He appreciates the outpouring of concern from the Waterbury community. Angel hasn’t been able to contact any of his loved ones yet.

He’s worried.

“It just hurts,” he said.

Related Content: U.S. Coast Guard on Long Island Sound stands ready to assist Puerto Rico

the gathering 1 Thousands in Waterbury will help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico
(LaSalle Blanks/WTNH)

“I couldn’t sleep last night,” said Tony Figueroa, who also has loved ones he hasn’t been able to reach in Puerto Rico.

Both Angel and Tony work for Waterbury Public Works. Thursday morning, they were busy getting Library Park ready for a huge annual community festival.

The Gathering will take place Saturday. It attracts thousands of people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Its main purpose is to bring people together to celebrate unity and celebrate diversity with a festive parade, then music and fun. People are all decked out in their native garb. It’s a colorful, fun time.

Related Content: Local Red Cross volunteers deploy to help hurricane victims

But this year, The Gathering will also serve as a benefit to help the people of Puerto Rico. Waterbury’s Hispanic Coalition approached Mayor Neil O’Leary with the idea and now it’s full steam ahead. The Hispanic Coalition will have a booth at The Gathering where they will accept donations for Puerto Rico’s hurricane relief.

“It hits you right in the heart,” the mayor said. “It makes you feel really good.”

“We are along with you, we fight with you, and it’s going to be a struggle, but we know that Puerto Rico will once again be strong,” said Alderman Victor Lopez, Jr., Executive Director of the Hispanic Coalition.

the gathering 2 Thousands in Waterbury will help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico
(LaSalle Blanks/WTNH)

Related Content: People in Connecticut looking to help Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria

Angel and Tony, who are working hard to make sure Library Park is ready for the big crowds this weekend, are touched that many are coming to help people like their loved ones who they pray are safe from the storm.

“It makes me happy that somebody cares, you know?” Tony said.

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