‘Viva México!’: Streets of Chicago fill for three days of celebration

By Elizabeth Rymut, Staff Reporter

Nights were filled with celebrations of culture, featuring fireworks, thousands of people, loud music, cars honking and a sea of red, white and green flags flying above caravans of cars. The occasion for these extravagant fiestas? Mexican Independence Day.

“[The celebration] means a lot to our Mexican culture; it means everything … our independence, it means a lot to us,” said Devin Belez, who was celebrating on South Michigan Avenue. “We’ll be partying all weekend; it’s for the culture.”

The holiday, which was celebrated Sept. 15-17, marked the end of a decade of war between Mexico and Spain, which led to Mexico’s official independence from Spain in 1821.

Sept. 16 is referred to as “El Grito de Dolores” the cry of Dolores in honor of Miguel Hidalgo, a Mexican Catholic priest, who gave a speech to motivate people to revolt against the Spanish in 1810.

Hidalgo was executed for his cry for independence; however, his words stayed with the Mexican people. It has since become a tradition for the Mexican president to shout “Viva Mexico!” from his balcony on the eve of Sept. 16 each year.

“I’m feeling proud of where I come from. [We’re] celebrating us; it’s history for us, and we’re celebrating it,” said Thomas Perfecto, who was at Grant Park North.

Other celebrations took place throughout the city, separate from the nighttime partying. In Pilsen, a large crowd enjoyed the 20th annual Mexican Independence Day parade.

Restaurants like Cantón Regio, located at 1510 W. 18th St. in Pilsen, also showed their pride by decorating.

“We’re trying to get together, the staff, to get outfits to be festive and decorate the restaurant, as well,” said Daniel Gutierrez Jr., owner of Cantón Regio. “We’ll probably have some live music, a mariachi band playing that weekend.”