Cheering crowds stretched along 18th Street Saturday afternoon for Pilsen’s 20th annual Mexican Independence Day parade.
The march from Newberry Avenue to Wolcott Avenue, through the heart of one of Chicago’s biggest Mexican-American communities, marked an early commemoration of the date Mexico gained independence from Spain. The holiday lands Friday, Sept. 16.
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“¡Viva México!” a man chanted over a loud speaker as mariachi music played. The crowd cheered in response, some shouting the phrase in response.
The parade featured vintage cars waving large Mexican flags; men riding caballos bailadores, or dancing horses; people performing as chinelos, traditional costumed dancers from Mexico; and kids in colorful dresses performing baile folklórico, a collective term for various Mexican dancing styles.
Paulina Pacheco, a Pilsen resident, brings her two young sons to the parade every year. She said her boys love to watch the dancing horses.
“I’m first-generation, so it’s important to me to celebrate and honor our culture and to teach and show my sons our culture and history,” Pacheco said.
Juanita Nuñez, born and raised in Pilsen, has attended the parade since she was a kid.
“I love the chance to celebrate and to learn more about my culture... There’s always more I can learn,” Nuñez said.
The 26th Street Mexican Independence Day Parade, another local celebration for the holiday, is scheduled for noon Sunday in Little Village.