Group plans Mexican Independence Day festival in Grant Park

CHICAGO — In recent years, unofficial street parties celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day have surged in popularity: car caravans clog the Loop with bumper-to-bumper traffic as people dance in the streets, drivers do burnouts, and an orchestra of car horns fills the air.

In 2020, a woman was critically injured when a reveler plowed his pickup truck into a CTA bus stop near Grant Park.

Earlier this month, a man was sentenced to 45 years in prison for murdering another man in a South Loop parking lot during the 2021 festivities.

The next year’s celebration saw two people get shot in the Loop. It was so big that the local police district was unable to respond to most 911 calls for several hours. Then-mayor Lori Lightfoot and her top cop repeatedly mentioned the problems caused by traffic gridlock in the Loop. Ambulances, fire equipment, and police couldn’t get through downtown due to the traffic.

In social media video frames of Mexican Independence Day activities in the Loop last year, men stomp on burning debris in the street; other men ride the back of a moving Chicago Fire Department truck; and others enjoy the view as their driver does a burnout. (Snapchat)

During last year’s takeover in the Loop, Chicago cops charged at least 11 people with felonies and seized at least six guns. And, despite stern warnings that city officials “will not tolerate car caravans,” the streets became an all-night party anyway.

Now, there’s another plan—a plan to host a two-day Mexican Independence Day festival in Grant Park.

The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Mexican Consulate in Chicago are proposing the idea, which Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) revealed in his weekly newsletter on Friday.

Organizers say Choose Chicago and the state support the event, which will run from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on September 14 and 15.

According to a promotional flyer, the festival will include food, “family fun,” arts and crafts, live music and performances at the Petrillo Bandshell, and “some of the best Margaritas in town.”

Reilly said organizers are hosting a community meeting on Thursday, May 9, to explain their plans, logistics, and expectations to local residents. The meeting will be held at the Fairmont Chicago, 200 North Columbus Drive, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will also be on Zoom.

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