Mayor Bloomberg Honors Julia Alvarez, Juan Marichal And Carlos Gomez At Annual Dominican Heritage Celebration

August 7, 2006

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today hosted a reception in honor of the rich cultural heritage and contributions of the Dominican community in New York City.  This year’s celebration at Gracie Mansion included three honorees: internationally-renowned writer Julia Alvarez, Baseball Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, and Dominican Parade Grand Marshall and Union TeleCard Alliance CEO Carlos Gomez.  The Mayor presented each honoree with a crystal apple in recognition of their exemplary achievements in literature, sports and entrepreneurship.  Joining the Mayor in this celebration were Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Guillermo Linares, Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Jeanne Mullgrav, Dominican Parade President Nelson Peña and New York Mets 3rd Base/Infield Coach Manny Acta.

“Tonight we celebrate all things Dominican in our community – in the arts, in business, in sports and in public service, Dominican New Yorkers are leading the way,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “It gives me great pleasure to honor three very successful individuals who have not only brought great pride to the Dominican Republic but have also helped solidify the bonds between the D.R. and New York.  There is no question that New York City owes much of its recent revival to the thousands of Dominicanos, and people from other parts of the world, that come here to pursue their dreams. “ 

“Nearly 50 years ago, I was a small girl coming to this great, big city,” said Julia Alvarez.  “Thinking back on those early years – struggling to learn English and adapting to a new life and culture – I never could have imagined the storyline that would bring me Gracie Mansion this evening.  It is a great honor to be here to receive an award from the Mayor, and for which I owe so many words of thanks to family, friends, and colleagues.  Today, I have two daughters and two granddaughters who have made New York their home, and I know that this City will be as good to them as it was to me.”

“It’s a great honor to receive this award from Mayor Bloomberg and his Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, Guillermo Linares – who, like me, has helped blaze new trails for Dominicans.  This is a great night not only for all of us with roots in the Dominican Republic, but for all New Yorkers who are part of the Dominican community.  It is wonderful to be here in New York to see our community so strong – from the streets of Washington Heights and Corona to the diamond at Shea Stadium.  Dominicans have much to celebrate today, and much to be proud of.”

“The talent and creativity that continuously emerge from the Dominican community are a source of great pride for me,” said Carlos Gomez.  ”I appreciate the recognition from my community and our Mayor and humbly accept it on behalf of all of the forefathers and foremothers who laid a path for the aspirations and success of Dominicanos in this great City.”

New York is home to more than 400,000 Dominican immigrants, many of who have settled in Washington Heights, Corona, Cypress Hill and other parts of the City.  On Sunday, August 13th, Mayor Bloomberg will celebrate the anniversary of The Restoration of the Dominican Independence, which took place on August 16, 1865, by marching in New York’s largest Dominican parade, which travels down the Avenue of the Americas.  Two other Dominican parades take place every summer – La Gran Parada Dominicana del Bronx and the Brooklyn Dominican Day Parade.

At the reception, guests enjoyed the music of “Clarinete Májicos,” courtesy of First Class Car and Limousine Service.  The festivities were generously sponsored by ESPN Deportes, Presidente Beer and the Dominican American Culture Interchange Foundation. Dominican cuisine and refreshments were provided by Barefoot Wines, Ron Barcelo, El Malecon Restaurant, La Cabana Antojitos Dominicanos, El Rey Restaurant I & II, Gran Mar De Plata Restaurant, Caridad Restaurant, National Supermarket Association, and Marisco Centro. Executive Car Club Inc. donated its services.

This year’s honorees include:

A poet, novelist and professor of creative writing who was raised in the Dominican Republic and New York City, Julia Alvarez is praised throughout the world for literature that gives voice to the experiences of Dominican women, immigrants and history. She has published more than 15 books. Born in New York, Ms. Alvarez’s active imagination, coupled with the great attention she needed to pay to each word as an English Language Learner, gave her great training for a career as a teacher and writer.  In the Time of the Butterflies, her stunning work on the Mirabal sisters, has been published in more than 11 different languages and was made into a feature film.   

Carlos Gomez is the CEO of Union Telecard Alliance. Born in the city of Moca, Dominican Republic, Carlos came to the New York at the age of 20.  While in New York, Mr. Gomez became aware of the phone booth business and soon he opened his own phone booth store, which became a huge success. In 1996, Carlos opened 3262 Union, a business that sold phone cards to wholesalers but his ambition did not stop there. In 1997, his outfit united with a company called IDT to establish the Union Telecard Alliance, a service that many immigrants use to connect to their homelands.  Carlos has many business ventures besides UTA, is owner of Vitarroz an ethnic food distribution company, Ingles Para Hoy an English learning course and TUYO Mobile a wireless provider. Mr. Gomez is the Grand Marshall of the 2006 Dominican Day Parade.

Nicknamed the “Dominican Dandy,” Juan Antonio Marichal Sanchez (Juan Marichal) was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 as the first and only Dominican player. Mr. Marichal was born in Laguna Verde, Dominican Republic and entered the Major Leagues in 1960 with the San Francisco Giants. Known for his high leg kick, Juan Marichal pitched 243 wining games and lost only 142 over his 16 amazing seasons. In 1999, he ranked No. 71 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Stu Loeser/Silvia Alvarez

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