Rochester, N.Y. --- A local tradition enters it 43rd year this weekend and the Puerto Rican Festival has grown to become a destination for out of town visitors.
"It does have an impact on the local businesses, hotels, travel arrangements and all that,” Orlando Ortiz, a festival organizer said.
But locally the festival’s reputation has been marred in recent years because of incidents that appear to follow festival-goers into nearby neighborhoods after the family-friendly events come to a close. Dozens of arrests are typically reported and rocks or bottles thrown at police patrol cars are becoming annual events as well.
"It's certainly something that we deal with every year and it's certainly very frustrating from the festival standpoint to have to deal with that every year,” Ortiz said.
Police report few if any incidents occur at the actual festival and the groups most often responsible for the conflicts have little if anything to do with the festival itself.
"It's a terrific event. It's what happens after the festival that we're trying to eliminate and that is some of the parades and some of the lawlessness that happens on the streets,” Rochester Police Officer Justin Collins said. “We're looking to eliminate that and it's for safety reasons; we want people to celebrate their heritage, celebrate this great day but do it safely (because) there are young kids out there.”