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Puerto Rican Day Parade Merger 'A Great Show of Unity,' Alderman Says

HUMBOLDT PARK — While Downtown may be losing its 48-year-old Puerto Rican Day parade, Humboldt Park's reaction to getting a bigger parade there has been overwhelmingly positive.

Organizers of both parades announced Tuesday that the two parades would merge into one big parade in the heart of Humboldt Park, where the Puerto Rican People's Parade has been held since 1978.

Attendance at the Downtown parade has decreased over the years, while crowds at the People's Parade have grown.

"It was a long time coming, and finally it's here," said Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th), who helped arrange the merger. "It was a great show of unity, which I think is going to pay off down the line."

He said money that Downtown attendees would spend on parking, food and other goods would now stay in the neighborhood.

Recording engineer Michael Karyniak lives in Wicker Park but has worked at Strobe Recording at 2631 W. Division St. for six years.

"It's crazy. You can't even use the street," he said of past parades. "I've actually had to cancel sessions because I couldn't even get to the studio."

Still, he thinks a bigger parade will be a good thing.

"It seems like a positive for the neighborhood because they seem to have a really, really, really good time," he said. "I hate to call it a negative just because I'm inconvenienced."

Dianna Manjarrez lives in the suburbs, but has spent years working closely with the community in the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, heading up Generation L, a project that provides safe sex education for gay, bisexual and transgendered Latino youth.

"When I've heard people talk about the parade here they were very proud that it was here and they always differentiate it from the downtown parade," she said. "So, I think it's a good thing."

This year's Puerto Rican People's Parade will be held June 15, traveling along Division Street from Western Avenue to Sacramento Avenue.

The Puerto Rican Festival will be held from June 12-16.