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Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other dignitaries cut the ribbon to start the 2008 51st Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade.
The Puerto Rican Day Parade is always muy caliente, but Sunday was off the charts.
With temperatures in the mid-90s, Vivian Garcia needed plenty of water as she showed off her Boricua pride on Fifth Ave.
"It makes you feel like you're at home - the music, the people, the crowd," said Garcia, 29, of Springfield, Mass. "It's very hot, but worth it."
Migdali Ramos, 35, performed with the dance troupe Hijos de Agueybana in a full, long skirt and long-sleeved top.
She's used to the tropical heat, but admitted she was feeling a bit overdressed.
"Over there, it's always like this," she said. "Still, these dresses are very hot."
The parade's 51st edition turned Fifth Ave. into a sea of red, white and blue flags as hundreds of thousands turned out.
Union leader Dennis Rivera was grand marshal and led the 2-mile cavalcade of colorful floats, including one sponsored by the Daily News.
People dressed in the colors of the Puerto Rican flag danced atop the Daily News float, which proudly displayed a sign promoting the paper's coverage of the Latino community.
There were also marching bands, beauty queens in foot-high tiaras and dancers on stilts, all moving to a thumping salsa beat.
Mayor Bloomberg marched, along with Gov. Paterson and a delegation of mayors from Puerto Rican cities.
Celia Colon-Ramos, 35, of Queens, sported a Puerto Rican flag tank top, along with a flag-embossed visor and a large flag wrapped around her waist.
That matched perfectly with the smaller flag she was waving and a sign she carried that proclaimed, "I don't live in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico lives in me."
"I love to come out to the parade to show the pride of my island," she said. "I'm very, very proud to be Puerto Rican-American."