Chicago recently celebrated Mexican Independence Day. This historic event commemorates Mexico’s victory against Spain over 200 years ago. The streets of Chicago were filled with people displaying patriotic enthusiasm, bringing attention to Mexico’s rich culture and history.
Downtown Street Closures – Preparation meets Celebration
Chicago officials strategically closed streets in downtown Chicago to accommodate the festivities. Some revelers dressed in colors of the Mexican Flag caused traffic to stop at certain intersections for a short time. A car was seen shooting off fireworks near South Michigan Avenue & East Ida B. Wells Drive added to the festive atmosphere.
Due to the large number of car caravans celebrating the anniversary, the city’s Central Business District was closed. This area spanned from Division Street to 18th Street and between DuSable Lake Shore Drive to Hasted Street. The city’s crowd management strategy was furthered as the night went on, with snow plows, heavy machinery and other measures being deployed to block certain exits from major expressways. The goal of this effort was to streamline and control access to the Central Business District.
Officials clarified that they had no intention of raising the city bridges. This was a controversial move in the past.
Maintain Access Points to Facilitate Residents and Workers
The city made sure that residents and employees of the downtown area could still access several checkpoints, including
- North Halsted at several junctions such as West Division, West Chicago West Washington and West Madison.
- South Halsted and South Jackson
- West Roosevelt and South Union
- 18th Street has three access points – South State, South Michigan and South Indiana.
- West Division and North LaSalle
Chicago police have adopted an approach that is user-friendly, allowing residents to bypass the requirement of presenting a driver’s licence or access card at designated checkpoints.
City Plea: Responsible Revelry
Reyna Mendivil, consul general for Mexico in Chicago and other city officials released statements ahead of the celebrations. Participants were urged to allow emergency vehicles to pass unhindered, in order to ensure everyone’s safety. The message was simple: Celebrate responsibly.
Local celebrations: Highlighting heritage and unity
Benito Juarez Community Academy, with its clear skies and pleasant climate, became a center of celebrations, featuring food, live music and traditional dances. The gathering was more organized and aimed to be an alternative to the spontaneous celebrations that sometimes cause traffic jams in downtown areas.
The celebrations in Pilsen were of special importance. The community held a full-fledged Mexican Independence Day celebration after almost three years. This was presumably because of pandemic-related restrictions.
Marvin Lopez, resident of Little Village shared his view on the importance of the event. He highlighted the pride of the community in its culture, language and culinary traditions.
Hernandez Middle School, located in Gage Park, also celebrated the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. The day ended with the “Grito de Independencia,” a battle cry that symbolizes the road to Mexico’s Independence.
Unity, Culture, & Forward Vision
The Mexican Independence Day was not just a day to remember, but also a symbol of pride, unity and resilience for Chicago residents. The city is gearing up for the Mexican Independence Day Parade, its signature event in Little Village. The sentiments are the same: to honor the past, cherish and embrace the present and create a future that combines culture and unity.