This year's Mexican independence Parade has one message: Families belong together

alt text By Pat Nabong, Reporter, The Real Chi

Every year, thousands of spectators gather in Little Village and cheer “Viva Mexico” during the 26th Street Mexican Independence Day Parade. This year, amid separation of families at the border and deportations in the Latino community, another message underlied the event: that families should not be split up.

Themed “families belong together,” the parade, which celebrated Mexico’s independence from Spain, drew thousands of families to 26th Street.

The annual celebration was a break for families, said Ivonne Acosta.

“[Families] could feel like at least some time to celebrate,” said Acosta, who spent hours dancing at the parade. Acosta said people are still afraid to go out because ICE has already taken several Little Village residents. “There's some families that are less afraid than others, so like even then, they kind of like feel a little bit more courage to go out and celebrate their culture.”

Lisa, who prefers to be identified only by her first name, attended the parade with her two children who wore red, white and green headbands. Lisa’s parents brought her to the parade when she was a child, so she continued that tradition in her own family. But this year, they were incomplete.

“My husband was taken away from our kids. He got deported back and that's why we're here without my husband,” she said. “So we believe families should stay together.”

Maria Reyes, wearing a sombrero, stood on a truck while holding a Mexican flag. She said she came out to celebrate her heritage. She also took a stand against the separation of families.

“Whoever's taking [families] apart, that's not human,” she said. “You keep families together at all times, at all means.”