Pilsen residents celebrate Mexican Independence Day: ‘¡Viva México!’

Thousands lined 18th Street Saturday to commemorate Mexico’s independence from Spain.

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Elizabeth Ruvalcava, 48, dances during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Elizabeth Ruvalcava, 48, dances during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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.

Men riding horses march down West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Men riding horses march down West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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.

Paradegoers ride lowrider cars during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Paradegoers ride lowrider cars during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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.

A kid rides a horse during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

A kid rides a horse during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Spectators watch the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Spectators watch the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Kids ride a float during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Kids ride a float during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Aubree Lugo, 4, sits on a car that is carrying Mexican flags during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Aubree Lugo, 4, sits on a car that is carrying Mexican flags during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

From left: Xochitl Ponce, 8, holds a snow cone while Noemi Ponce, 6, eats a popsicle and Xiomara Ponce, 7, looks at the camera during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

From left: Xochitl Ponce, 8, holds a snow cone while Noemi Ponce, 6, eats a popsicle and Xiomara Ponce, 7, looks at the camera during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Dancers peform with the Willis Tower in the background during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Dancers peform with the Willis Tower in the background during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Luna, a dog dressed in the color scheme of a Mexican flag, stands on the street during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Luna, a dog dressed in the color scheme of a Mexican flag, stands on the street during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Dancers perform during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Dancers perform during the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade along West 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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