Organizer blames alderman for cancellation of Cinco de Mayo parade

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Marchers take part in the Cinco de Mayo parade in Little Village in 2013. | Brian Jackson/Sun-Times file photo

Organizers have pulled the plug on the Cinco de Mayo parade just days ahead of its annual march through the Little Village neighborhood, blaming lack of support from Ald. George Cardenas (12th) — a claim the alderman denies.

The parade had been scheduled for May 6, but city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events was notified of its cancellation on Friday, an agency spokeswoman said.

Hector Escobar, president of the Cermak Road Chamber of Commerce that coordinates the event, said they canceled the parade “due to years of sabotage and conflicts of interest” on the part of Cardenas.

“We’re tired of the lack of support,” Escobar said, claiming Cardenas had promoted other Cinco de Mayo festivities scheduled in conflict with their parade to create “confusion” for residents.

Cardenas said he had no part in this year’s cancellation.

“We don’t have any issues with the parade,” he said in a phone interview.

But the alderman claimed organizers had not come up with the required proof of insurance or a letter from the local Chicago Police commander outlining a safety plan.

“It’s important for people to follow the process . . . We can still have a parade if he still meets this criteria,” Cardenas said.

Escobar said they had properly followed the steps of the permit process.

“We’ve been doing this for 40 years,” Escobar said. “We know what we need to do.”

The spokeswoman for the city’s special events department didn’t have details on the parade’s permit status at the time of cancellation.

Escobar cited a 2014 letter that Cardenas sent to city officials saying he didn’t support that year’s parade. The alderman on Tuesday acknowledged the letter, saying organizers were late meeting deadlines that year, but he said he didn’t send any type of recommendation this year.

Most vendors have been refunded for their parade sponsorships, according to Escobar, who said he doubted the parade could still be salvaged.

The route had been set to end in Cardenas’ 12th Ward, passing through those of Ald. Michael Scott (24th), Ald. Danny Solis (25th) and Ald. Jason Ervin (28th). Those alderman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Late Tuesday, Cardenas issued a statement reiterating that he had no role in the parade cancellation, calling Escobar’s claims “completely false.

“According to the Department of Cultural Affairs, the applicant failed to submit the necessary documentation, including an insurance policy and a letter of approval from the police department,” Cardenas wrote. “The permit was not issued because the application was incomplete. The parade is not taking place due to the lack of responsibility on behalf of the organizer. All Aldermen involved had the option to request a hearing if they had a concern, I certainly did not. There is no such conflict of interest, and I would never interfere with a significant annual celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.”

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