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Puerto Rican Fest Organizers: Riot Fest Should Stay in Humboldt Park

By Linze Rice | May 6, 2015 3:21pm
 Riot Fest drew record crowds to its 2014 festival in Humboldt Park.
Riot Fest drew record crowds to its 2014 festival in Humboldt Park.
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Facebook/ Riot Fest

CHICAGO — Organizers for Humboldt Park's Puerto Rican Festival and Parade Committee have joined forces with Riot Fest to support the punk rock fest's future in Humboldt Park, even though Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) wants it gone.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Riot Fest and Puerto Rican Fest organizers said they want to work together to make both festivals better for the neighborhood, and want make sure the "true voice and tone" of the community is "not stifled by officials who do not represent the needs and concerns of the community."

“Our message is simply about cooperation, friendship and unity and certainly not segregation or division,” said Riot Fest Founder Michael Petryshyn. “Our festivals are important to this in different ways, but, in the end, there is one principle that ties us all together: we love our community.”

In recent weeks, Maldonado has blasted Riot Fest, saying it left the park a mess and is too large for the neighborhood. Alderman Joe Moreno (1st) is in favor of the three-day music fest staying in Humboldt Park, even though the park is not in his ward (though part of the park is very close to the 1st ward.)

Taking Back Sunday, a New York-based band that has played previous Riot Fests in Chicago, took to Twitter Tuesday to voice their support and to help circulate a Change.org petition calling for the festival's return to Humboldt Park.

Last year, Riot Fest caused $182,000 in damage to the park, which they ultimately repaired (though Maldonado said they didn't do enough). Despite the hefty price tag, organizers for the two events said that over $370,000 has been donated by Riot Fest to non-profit organizations since 2012, with at least $249,000 going to 26th ward charities like the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

“Riot Fest has done a lot of good for this community,” said Abel DeJesus, vice-president of the Puerto Rican Parade Committee. “I know for a fact that supporting good causes and things important to the community is what gets Mike [Petryshyn] up in the morning. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t call me with an idea and say ‘wouldn’t so and so be cool dude.' And yes, he calls me dude."

As the summer draws near, Riot Fest and the Puerto Rican Parade Committe said they are planning to unveil "specific plans to demonstrate a true coalition" within Humboldt Park.

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