The Mexican Independence Day Parade in Chicago is one of the largest parades celebrating Mexican heritage and culture in the Midwest. The parade is held every September in Chicago to commemorate Mexico’s independence from Spain. If you’re looking to celebrate Mexican Independence Day in Chicago, here’s what you need to know about the parade.
When is the Mexican parade in Chicago?
The Mexican Independence Day Parade in Chicago takes place every year on the Sunday closest to September 16th. September 16th is the day that Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1810. In 2022, the parade will take place on Sunday, September 11th. The parade typically steps off around 12 noon.
Where is the Mexican parade route in Chicago?
The parade route runs along Columbus Drive in Chicago’s Grant Park. The parade starts at Balbo Drive and heads north along Columbus Drive. It proceeds all the way up to Monroe Street, covering about 1.5 miles of road. Hundreds of thousands of spectators line up along the parade route each year to watch the floats, marching bands, dancers, and more go by.
Where is the best place to watch the parade?
Anywhere along Columbus Drive will give you a chance to watch the parade, but a few spots offer particularly good views:
- Near the start point at Balbo Drive – You’ll get to see all of the parade participants as they kick off the event.
- Grant Park Cultural Center – This area offers bleacher seating for a great elevated view.
- Buckingham Fountain – The open area around the fountain provides room for big crowds.
- Near the endpoint at Monroe Street – Catch the grand finale here.
Arrive early to claim your ideal parade watching spot. The parade route tends to get crowded quickly.
Where does the parade start?
The Mexican Independence Day Parade kicks off at the intersection of Columbus Drive and Balbo Drive in Grant Park. Participants begin staging for the parade around 10 am. Floats, vehicles, marching bands, and other performers line up along Balbo Drive before stepping off shortly after 12 pm.
What time should I arrive?
To secure a good spot with an unobstructed view, you’ll want to arrive 1-2 hours before the start of the parade. Getting there by 10 am should give you time to find parking and walk to the parade route. For the best viewing spots near the start point or end point, you may want to arrive even earlier around 9 am.
Keep in mind that many streets close to accommodate the parade. Allow plenty of extra time for traffic and road closures in the Grant Park area.
Where can I park near the parade?
Parking options are limited in Grant Park on parade day. However, there are garages and lots within walking distance of the parade route. Some options include:
- Millennium Park Garage – Entrance on Michigan Ave at Monroe St
- Grant Park North Garage – Entrance on Michigan Ave at Randolph St
- East Monroe Parking Garage – 50 E Monroe St
- Soldier Field South Lot – South of Soldier Field by McFetridge Dr
- Museum Campus Parking Lots – Off Lake Shore Dr near Roosevelt Rd
Getting there early is key for parking, as the garages and lots fill up fast. You can also take public transportation like the train or bus to avoid parking challenges.
What time does the parade end?
The Mexican Independence Day Parade usually concludes around 2 to 3 pm. The entire parade takes about 2 hours from start to finish. The endpoint of the parade route is at Monroe Street, so that is where you can see the final parade participants march by in the early afternoon.
If you want to stay until the very end, be prepared for large crowds trying to leave the area all at once. You may have an easier time exiting just before the finale.
Who all is in the parade?
The Mexican Independence Day Parade features over 100 different entries, including:
- Floats sponsored by Chicago’s Mexican clubs and organizations
- Low riders and specialty vehicles
- Marching bands and dancers
- Equestrian units
- Youth groups and students
- Mexican cowboys and indigenous dancers
- Police and firefighter units
- Politicians and dignitaries
The parade showcases the diversity of Mexican heritage. You’ll see Aztec dancers as well as Mariachi bands and Mexican cowboys. Beauty queens, sports teams, and more also join the celebration.
Who can be in the parade?
Participation in the Chicago Mexican Independence Day Parade is open to all groups who wish to showcase Mexican culture and pride. The parade is organized by the Mexican Independence Parade Committee. Interested groups can contact the organizers to apply for inclusion in the parade.
To participate, groups must fit with the theme and purpose of the event. Those accepted are required to register and follow all rules and regulations provided by the organizers.
Is the parade televised?
Chicago’s channel 66 MeTV and channel 44 WSNS broadcast the Mexican Independence Day Parade live in the Chicago area. That means if you can’t make it out to see the parade in person, you can still watch it live on television.
The parade is also streamed online on the website of Telemundo Chicago. So out-of-towners can view the festivities on their computers or mobile devices via the live stream.
Can you be in the parade?
Participation in the Mexican Independence Day Parade is coordinated by the parade organizing committee. Groups interested in being part of the parade must submit an application and be approved to join the line-up.
If you are not affiliated with a specific group, your options for being in the parade are limited. However, you could reach out to local Mexican organizations to see if any would allow you to accompany them during the parade.
Your best opportunity for participation is to get involved with one of the groups participating, such as a dance team, marching band, or Mexican-American business or club. That will allow you access to march or ride along with them during the big event.
How do you sign up for the Mexican parade?
If you would like your group or organization to participate in Chicago’s Mexican Independence Day Parade, you need to submit an application to the parade committee. Here are the steps:
- Contact the Mexican Independence Parade Committee to request an application. You can call 773-542-0224.
- Fill out the participation application with all required information about your group and proposed parade entry.
- Read and agree to the parade rules and regulations.
- Submit the completed application by the deadline, typically in June.
- The committee will review applications and let groups know if they are accepted by late July.
Space is limited, so make sure to get your application in early. You’ll then need to register your final entry and line-up all logistics with the committee.
What else is there to do after the parade?
After watching the excitement of the Mexican Independence Day Parade, the party continues at a number of locations:
- Parade Viewing Stands – Sticking around the parade route lets you take in all the post-parade festivities.
- Cultural Sites – Visit Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum or National Museum of Mexican Art.
- Pilsen Neighborhood – Grab Mexican eats and more in this historic Chicago neighborhood.
- Suburbs – Berwyn and Cicero host street festivals over Mexican Independence Day weekend.
Throughout the day, crowds pack local Mexican restaurants and bars. Nighttime fiestas continue the celebrations well into the evening all around town.
What is the history of the Mexican parade in Chicago?
Chicago’s Mexican Independence Day Parade dates back to 1968. Here is a look at the origins and growth of this iconic event over the decades:
- 1968 – The first Mexican Independence Parade is held in Chicago.
- 1970s – Parade becomes an annual tradition spearheaded by a committee.
- 1980s – Festivities grow each year with increasing participants.
- Early 1990s – Route moves to Columbus Drive with 25,000 spectators.
- 1996 – Flood of participants as Mexico hosts World Cup.
- 2000s – Political leaders begin appearing in the parade.
- 2010s – Parade attendance surpasses 250,000.
Today the event attracts over 1 million spectators, covering 1.5 miles through Grant Park. It displays the pride, heritage, and culture of Chicago’s thriving Mexican-American community.
How has the parade changed over time?
While the spirit of Mexican Independence Day remains at its core, Chicago’s annual parade has evolved in several ways since the inaugural event in 1968:
- The parade has grown significantly in length, duration, and attendance.
- The location shifted from side streets to the grand Columbus Drive route.
- More floats, cars, and giant balloons have been incorporated.
- Sound systems and live TV broadcasting came later.
- Celebrity grand marshals began presiding over the parade.
- Participants now include Mexican pop stars and sports figures.
- Sponsors from major brands can now be seen.
Yet time-honored Mexican traditions still thrive at the parade through Mariachi groups, Aztec dancers, low rider cars, and Catholic icons.
Why is the Mexican parade important for Chicago?
Chicago’s Mexican Independence Day Parade holds great significance for several reasons:
- It honors and celebrates Mexican heritage and history.
- The parade displays the vital role of Mexican culture in Chicago.
- It brings together over 100 local Mexican organizations.
- The event provides a unifying communal experience.
- It allows for civic participation and activism.
- The parade draws over 1 million spectators to the city.
- It reminds all of the diversity that shapes Chicago.
For over 50 years, the parade has showcased the traditions, pride, and contributions of Chicago’s Mexican and Mexican-American residents.
How has the parade impacted Chicago?
Chicago’s grand Mexican Independence Day Parade has made a significant impact on the city in various ways:
- It provides an economic boost, bringing spending to businesses.
- The parade is a major cultural event on Chicago’s calendar.
- It inspires community organizing around Latino issues.
- The event draws tourists from around the Midwest.
- It employs hundreds of volunteers each year.
- The parade promotes cultural education and exchange.
- It fosters greater civic participation.
- It inspires more events celebrating Mexican culture.
For generations, the parade has informed non-Mexicans about Mexican traditions and issues. The event has grown into one of Chicago’s most prominent cultural celebrations.
What is special about Chicago’s parade?
Several qualities make Chicago’s Mexican Independence Day Parade unique:
- It is one of the largest parades outside of Mexico for Dieciseis de Septiembre.
- The parade features authentic indigenous dance and Aztec choreography rarely seen in the U.S.
- Low rider cars sometimes parade down Columbus Drive “hopping” up and down.
- Mexico’s popular celebrities are invited to participate.
- Chicago’s parade inspired similar events in other cities like Houston and Atlanta.
- The event draws over 1 million spectators of all backgrounds each year.
- It remains predominantly organized by grassroots activists.
The sheer scale and energy of the event creates an unrivaled spectacle celebrating Mexican-American culture.
Chicago’s Mexican Independence Day Parade brings the sights, sounds, and spirit of Mexico to the streets of Grant Park each September. For over 50 years, the festive event has celebrated Mexican history and culture. Hundreds of thousands of spectators look forward to the elaborate floats, exuberant music, and flamboyant costumes that fill the streets during this unifying expression of heritage.
The parade acts as a source of cultural education and exchange for Chicagoans of all backgrounds. It also empowers the city’s Mexican residents, promoting civic action and participation. Even if you can’t make it out to view the parade live, you can still appreciate the pivotal role this event plays for Chicago’s diversity.