Mariachis played, politicians waved, colorfully costumed women twirled and everyone tried to avoid stepping in the droppings left by the caballeros’ horses.
The scene played out Sunday along 26th Street as the Mexican Independence Day Parade made its way through the Little Village neighborhood amid thousands who lined the route, waved flags and cried “Viva Mexico!”
Before the parade kicked off, Ald. George Cardenas (12th) offered constituents a few words to bolster spirits among those in the Mexican community worried about immigration policies under the administration of President Donald Trump.
“We believe in education, believe in family values — everything that they say that they want. The fact that they have others reasons for not wanting us is their problem. Our problem is to go forward, to be here and forever make a difference in this country,” Cardenas said.
Also prior to the parade, and in accordance with tradition, shots of tequila were handed out to notable pols in attendance.
“Full glass. Am I taking the whole thing? asked J.B. Pritzker, the only gubernatorial candidate on hand, before downing a shot.
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza drank right from the bottle. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin declined.
Moments later, an armada of parade participants headed west on 26th Street, first walking past the concrete wall of the Cook County Jail women’s division before entering the heart of the city’s Mexican community.
One parade float held a boxing ring where two young men sparred.
Others contained mariachi bands.
A line of large and loud Jeeps preceded a similar line of Cadillac Escalades, not to be outdone by the dozens of engine-revving motorcyclists who brought up the rear of the parade.
“I think this parade adds a sense of security to the community,” said Roberto Acevedo, 26, of Bridgeview.
“This sends a message to the people who live in Chicago that we’re welcome, and it makes us feel included in the community, not pushed away or demonized,” he said.