NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The National Dominican Day Parade will mark 40 years when it once again takes over a stretch of Sixth Avenue in Manhattan this Sunday, August 14.
The parade is a tradition beloved by the Dominican community across New York City and was started to celebrate Dominican culture, folklore, and traditions.
This year, at its gala, the parade will honor Elizabeth de Leon Bhargava -- who has risen to the heights of federal service in the Biden administration -- and she says it will be a full-circle moment for her.
The assistant secretary for administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development said she believes being a public servant has always been her calling.
"It means so much to my family, to my mom and my friends, I don't take the honor lightly, it means a lot of me," she said.
She was born in the Bronx but de Leon Bhargava and her family were forced to leave their apartment after a fire destroyed their building.
She says they were homeless for a time, but she served as point person.
"It was always this government official explaining what rules were, what the procedures were, and at times even as a child, I didn't agree with them, they made no sense," de Leon Bhargava said. "I wanted to be that official to say, maybe we can do this better."
During her more-than 30-year career in New York, she has worked in both city and state offices. She was the first Latina to hold the title of Deputy Secretary for Labor and Workforce.
She also played an integral role in establishing paid family leave.
As a graduate of Binghamton and Buffalo Law, she applauds the parade's focus on raising money for scholarships for kids.
She believes that education saved her.
"It's key to getting out of poverty, key to being able to reach your goals," she said.
So when she walks the route on Sunday, she will take it all in and remember the magical moment as a little girl when she heard the parade was not moving far from her home in Washington Heights.
"It felt like we had arrived, knowing that the Dominican community would be there from all five boroughs -- it was surreal," de Leon Bhargava said.
Organizers announced this year's event with the theme 40 years of Uplifting, Empowering & Elevating the Dominican Legacy.
ABC 7 New York will stream the parade on Sunday, August 14 starting at 1 p.m. on our website, mobile app, and connected TV apps including Fire TV, Roku, Android and Apple TV.
The parade's Grand Marshal is New York City Department of Transportation commissioner and Dominican Republic native Ydanis Rodriguez.
A number of special parade honorees will also be featured.
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