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Parade celebrates Mexican independence
By Hafsa Naz Mahmood | Daily Herald Staff

Both Mexican and American flags were flown proudly Sunday during West Chicago's Mexican Independence Day parade.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Jorge Ortiz, 8, of West Chicago was among hundreds of people who lined up along streets of downtown West Chicago Sunday to take part in the city's Mexican Independence Day parade. The celebration featured a Mariachi band, children and adults dressed in ethnic outfits and displays of Mexican flags.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/17/2007 6:35 AM

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Lazaro Contreras played the violin with five other members of Mariachi Tecalitlan while dressed in a festive cowboy outfit during West Chicago's Mexican Independence Day parade Sunday.

His other group members played guitars, a harp and a mini-guitar.

"It's our pride to celebrate," said Contreras, 53, of Aurora. "It's a tradition, and it's a reminder of our independence."

Though the parade and celebration in downtown West Chicago was smaller than past years, hundreds of people still lined the streets to take part in the annual festivities.

Mayor Michael Kwasman hopes the parade will expand next year.

"It's part of our heritage, it's part of our future," he said.

While many Mexicans celebrated by driving around West Chicago with Mexican flags and red, white and green accents and balloons attached to their cars, some remembered the history behind this widely celebrated holiday.

Roberto Vasquez of West Chicago, who's been participating in the parade for more than 10 years, said he remembers the days of sitting in class in Mexico and learning about the country's struggle for independence.

"It makes you feel free. It makes you feel alive," he said. "I like to be with my friends and celebrate this day."

Contreras agreed.

Before 1810, there was oppression and the rich were taking over, he said. Now, almost 200 years after Mexico's independence, the country is still free.

"I think times have changed a lot," he said. "We live in a different world, and there's more freedom now in Mexico."

Other youngsters, like Teresa Galvan, 9, of Winchester, didn't recall much history, but gladly took part in the parade for the first time.

Galvan was wearing a colorful sombrero, a long, blue skirt and a white top with embroidered flowers. She walked through the streets and greeted the crowd. Afterward, she planned to reunite with more than 20 family members.

"I feel happy," she said, "because I get to be with my whole family."