Organizer of Little Village parade says to stay home for Cinco de Mayo

“Don’t go have drinks outside. Let’s be smart about this. We only have one life,” said Hector Escobar. “Play music in your home and celebrate by keeping others safe.”

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A Cinco de Mayo parade through Pilsen.

The Cinco de Mayo parade goes through Little Village and Pilsen.

Sun-Times

Hector Escobar has planned the annual Cinco de Mayo festival and parade that goes through Little Village and Pilsen for years, but instead of encouraging people to celebrate on Tuesday, he has one simple request this year: Stay home.

“Don’t go have drinks outside. Let’s be smart about this. We only have one life,” Escobar said. “Play music in your home and celebrate by keeping others safe.”

The multi-day Cinco de Mayo celebration — which marks the Mexican army’s victory over the France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 — was to kick off last Friday at Douglas Park and end with a parade on Sunday.

Restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans.

“It was sad to postpone the event because it’s usually one of the first summer events that people look to after being stuck indoors all winter,” Escobar said. “They take their grills out, vendors and other businesses are able to get a lot of money and people are generally happier when it kicks off.”

Also, for the first time, over 350 people from different towns in Mexico were supposed to appear, he said.

“You have to look at it like this: People’s lives are at risk,” Escobar said. “We all need to keep each other safe. ... Please, just stay home.”

Escobar wants to have a delayed celebration but admits a “Cinco De Mayo festival in July doesn’t make sense.”

Kevin Suarez, manager of Mi Tierra in Little Village, said their business obviously will lose out from the postponement; the restaurant, at 2528 S. Kedzie Ave., is only a street away from the parade.

“Traditionally, one of our busiest days is during the parade,” Suarez said.

For those hoping to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at home, the restaurant is offering meal and drink specials for carryout — including homemade margarita mix and tequila. And like many restaurants trying to survive on carryout during the shutdown, Mi Tierra has reduced prices “to help people get through these hard times.”

Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd), who’s ward largely covers Little Village, said it is important people don’t break the city’s stay-at-home order. With Chicago’s Latino community now being the demographic with the largest number of COVID-19 cases, he said, it’s now even more important to practice social distancing.

“Stay safe, stay inside and don’t have big parties,” Rodriguez said. “But, I mean, you should know the Latinx community in large doesn’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo like other communities do.”

Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.

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