Lehigh Valley

PPL building lights up red and blue for Puerto Rico

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - It started with a bright idea from Victor Martinez and his radio station, "La Mega Radio."

"We just had to do it, we just had to do it," begins Martinez, the station's owner and president.

The idea? Light up the tallest building in the Lehigh Valley, the PPL Tower Building, with the colors of the Puerto Rican flag.

Then the Puerto Rican community - 70,000 strong - got wind of that.

"All of the sudden, something happened. All of the sudden people started calling us, saying 'can we meet at the building by the park?'" Martinez says.

And one-by-one they started showing up - pride on full display.

Gina Fuentes, a 17-year-old living in Allentown says, "I'm here to inspire, where I came from, where I was born."

Then, a few turned into many.

"Everybody's here!" Martinez exclaims, gesturing toward the large crowd gathered behind him, waving flags and cheering.

Cars go by in the background, with huge Puerto Rican flags draped out the windows, honking repeatedly at the crowd, which roared back in approval.

Even though many in attendance are cheering and clapping, they're still full of fear.

"It's been such a rough situation for us, many of us, a week later, still can't get ahold of our families." Martinez says, sadly.

Fuentes tells us her family hasn't heard from many back home.

"My father, my mom's sister, brother," she lists, adding "It's terrifying, you know?"

But on this night, they stand together, holding both hands and hope, and sending a message.

"What happened there, they can resist it. They are strong," Mia Monet tells us, in a defiant 11-year-old voice.

The light back home in Puerto Rico might have flickered, but look up, they say - the light here, is shining strong.

"For everybody from anywhere in the city, to be able to look up to the sky and see red and blue tonight...for Puerto Ricans to know that that building today is lit up for us and for our people, it's priceless," Martinez says.

Behind him, the crowd begins to sing.


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