By Nikoleta Morales
The Puerto Rican Day Parade was created and started 47 years ago. The parade was traditionally celebrated in downtown Chicago. This year the tradition was broken – there will be no Puerto Rican Parade in downtown.
The Puerto Rican Parade Committee is joining forces with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center to celebrate this year’s theme “Promoviendo nuestra cultura y comunidad”. The 48th Puerto Rican Day Parade and the 35th Puerto Rican People’s Parade will become one this year. The parade will take place on June 15 at noon, starting on Division Street and Western Avenue and will proceed west on Division to Humboldt Park. The fest is sponsored by the Puerto Rican Parade Committee and is produced by Special Events Management.
“The downtown parade lost a lot of money in the last couple of years; it had low attendance, and parking was expensive. The idea was to find a way so that the parade will pay for itself. Merging the two parades together will bring more participants for the floats and will generate more money and sponsorships, and will break even,” said Hank Zemola, owner of Special Events Management in Chicago.
“The Puerto Rican community is along Division and Humboldt Park; why would you take people away from the neighborhood? This way it will be in the neighborhood. It will help the businesses on Division Street.”
According to Zemola, an initial meeting was held in February this year between Alderman Roberto Maldonado, Special Events Management, the Puerto Rican Parade Committee and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, where the merger was discussed.
Alderman Maldonado acknowledged his presence at the meeting and said: “I was present at the meeting. I didn’t make them do this. It was a joint decision between the Puerto Rican Parade Committee and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, a joined force to promote our parade and in the heart of our community.” According to Zemola, the actual decision was made at a subsequent meeting between the two Puerto Rican organizations as they wanted to “talk to the community” about this first.
“The participation has been decreased substantially in downtown. It will be great to have one big massive parade on Division Street. I also think it will be a big boost for the local economy,” added Maldonado.
“I think they are heading the right way. If you look over the five years at both events, the one at Division was much larger. The one downtown was a lot more expensive. I really think having the groups together is a good experience without losing money and will help the festivities,” said Zemola.
Currently the Puerto Rican Parade Committee of Chicago is undergoing a lawsuit…
Finish reading The battle of Chicago’s 2013 Puerto Rican Day Parade