BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — It is a milestone for the United Third Bridge of Palm Bay as it marks a quarter century of its annual Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival.
What You Need To Know
- United Third Bridge of Palm Bay is hosting its 25th Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival
- It is taking place in Palm Bay on Oct. 22, with the parade beginning at noon.
And this year's chairperson has a personal stake in its success. Evelyn Thomson's home office these days has been her kitchen table.
She's serving as the chair of the 25th Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival.
It's a monumental challenge, working with the city, police and fire department on the route, plus bringing on vendors to help participants celebrate the big day.
"It's been a huge endeavor, it's been a lot more work than I anticipated, but it's a labor of love," Thomson told Spectrum News 13.
That labor of love began 25 years ago with Sam Lopez, who started the first parade.
Lopez passed away last year, and Thomson stepped in to take it from there.
She wants to continue his legacy, but also show gratitude for United Third Bridge, which gave her daughter Mia a college scholarship when Thomson could not afford to send her to school.
Her daughter became Miss Latina of the parade in 2016.
"I feel indebted to that organization, it is an educational and cultural fund," says Thomson.
Mia made it to college with the goal of going into the U.S. Air Force, but died in a car crash her freshman year.
"At least I can say she went to college, and that's a huge thing," Thomson says.
After a quick break, there's more work to be done. Thomson heads to Hometown News, one of the major sponsors of the parade who is helping spread the word.
"They are always great supporters of United Third Bridge, so I'm excited," she says.
Last stop, Palm Bay City Hall, to drop off the new site plan for the parade and festival.
The main stage and vendors will take over the parking lot.
And the main entrance to get in, “Samuel C. Lopez Way” in honor of the man who started it all 25 years ago.
"It makes my heart happy, very happy for him," she says. "Honoring him for all the years he's put in so much work in the Hispanic community. … It's an honor to honor him and his legacy at this parade."
The Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival in Palm Bay on Oct. 22, with the parade beginning at noon.