HUMBOLDT PARK — In a historic development, Chicago's 48-year-old downtown Puerto Rican Day parade will merge with the Humboldt Park parade, creating one large event in the Northwest Side neighborhood.
Since 1978, the downtown Puerto Rican Day Parade has been rivaled by the Puerto Rican People's Parade in Humboldt Park, so named because organizers thought it better represented the community in Humboldt Park.
"At the time, the decision was made that this [Humboldt Park] was a Puerto Rican community and we had to celebrate our community," said Zenaida Lopez, co-director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center's Vida/SIDA project. "It began because we wanted to celebrate here. ... Sure, downtown's beautiful, it's touristy, a lot of things go on downtown, but it's not a Puerto Rican community."
Lopez said she's overjoyed that the parades will combine, because the downtown parade lured away some of the revelers that might have spent the whole day in Humboldt Park. As of now, she estimates some 15,000 people gather around Division Street and California Avenue for the beginning of the parade.
"I think it's exciting because it's going to be longer, and it's going to be much more community oriented," she said. "If we had 15,000 I know we're going to double that. The street is going to be really, really jumping."
Officials with the Puerto Rican Parade Committee of Chicago, which runs the downtown parade, were not immediately available for comment Tuesday evening.