Loyola Phoenix

A Proud Day in Pilsen

Pilsen’s annual Mexican Independence Day parade marched this past Saturday, Sept. 16, commemorating the 196th anniversary of Mexico’s freedom from Spain.

Mexican Independence Day marks the day that Mexico began its fight against Spain. On Sept. 15, 1810, Rev. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Mexican priest, rallied the people of Mexico together in preparation for a revolt. In his speech, Hidalgo said “Viva México,” a phrase still heard today. This started the 11-year war which ended victoriously for Mexico.

Nearly 30 percent of Chicago’s 2.7 million residents are of Mexican heritage. Those of hispanic descent account for the city’s second largest ethnic group, according to U.S. Census data released Sept. 14. The day is a large event of celebration and commemoration with parades throughout the city.

Pilsen’s rich history of Hispanic culture was put on display for all to see. The street was lined with parade-goers watching in awe as the dancers cascaded down the street. Middle school bands performed and singers passionately belted out Spanish ballads. Street vendors sold Mexican flags and noisemakers to the attendees.

A ceremony streamed through Telemundo Chicago showcased the Mexican consul while the parade went down 26th Street in Pilsen, known for its large Mexican community.

Pilsen’s parade has been running a 48-year streak, only getting larger as the years progress, and is organized by the Little Village Chamber of Commerce.

“I am beyond proud of being Mexican,” Luis Mejía Ahrens, a first-year international student from Mexico, said. “Loyola really focuses on acceptance. They really are open to whomever, wherever and that’s really, really nice. Just the fact that I don’t have to be afraid to say that I’m from Mexico or feel intimidated and I can feel at home even being Mexican here and I can be accepted as the rest, that’s good.

Although Ahrens didn’t attend the parade, he watched the celebration on TV.

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