Chicago Neighborhood Cinco de Mayo Parade Canceled After Feud Between City Alderman and Organizers

DENVER, CO - MAY 6: Dancers from the Colorado Mestizo Dancers perform near Lincoln and Colfax Ave during the 30th annual Cinco de Mayo 'Celebrate Culture Festival parade May 6, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. Over 400,000 festival goers are expected to attend the festival May 6th and May 7th at …
Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

A Cinco de Mayo parade — held for 40 years in a Chicago neighborhood — has been canceled this year due, organizers say, to a feud between a community group and the area’s city alderman.

The Cinco de Mayo parade that has been held for decades in the Windy City’s Little Village neighborhood has been put on ice according to parade organizer Hector Escobar, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Escobar, who represents the Cermak Road Chamber of Commerce, claimed that the event was canceled because of the opposition the group faced by 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas. Escobar told the paper that Cardenas has long opposed the group’s work and had even written letters to city hall in 2014 disavowing the chamber’s parade.

“This is a community event for 40 years, and it’s a shame that he’s been sending these letters that he does not support our event,” the community organizer insisted.

The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events confirmed that event organizers said that the event had been canceled.

“The conflict we have is with the alderman,” Escobar exclaimed. “It’s hard because (the community) expected this cultural event. But we can’t do this with the alderman against it. It’s the first event of the summer. People were excited to see the horses, to see the Mexican dresses, to have the Mexican food. It’s going to be hard. But hopefully next year things change.”

However, the alderman disputes Escobar’s characterization of the situation.

Cardenas admitted sending the letter in 2014 but assured the paper that the letter had nothing to do with the event’s cancellation this year.

“We don’t cancel anything,” Cardenas told the Tribune. “We’re not the organizers of this event. We’re simply a resource to make sure people are safe.”

But, Escobar reiterated that the group had had no issues with the city, it is Cardenas they have a problem with. The organizer insisted that Cardenas purposefully scheduled other community events in the neighborhood to conflict with their parade.

Cardenas is denying all charges. Indeed, Cardenas insisted that city officials were all set to serve the parade that was supposed to kick off this coming weekend.

The alderman also cited problems with the event’s paperwork, the Sun-Times reported.

“According to the Department of Cultural Affairs, the applicant failed to submit the necessary documentation, including an insurance policy and a letter of approval from the police department,” Cardenas told the Times. “The permit was not issued because the application was incomplete. The parade is not taking place due to the lack of responsibility on behalf of the organizer. All Aldermen involved had the option to request a hearing if they had a concern, I certainly did not. There is no such conflict of interest, and I would never interfere with a significant annual celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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