HUMBOLDT PARK — Humboldt Park’s Puerto Rican festival has been canceled, but the neighborhood’s Puerto Rican parade is still on — it’s just taking a new form.
The Puerto Rican Cultural Center and other community leaders are hosting a virtual parade 2-3 p.m. Saturday due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event will be streamed on HITN-TV and on the Puerto Rican Cultural Center’s website.
The parade, now in its 42nd year, will be a virtual tour of the neighborhood, beginning at Roberto Clemente Community Academy, stopping at Puerto Rican institutions like La Casita de Don Pedro Albizu Campos and La Plena Restaurant and ending at National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture.
State Sen. Omar Aquino (D-Chicago), State Rep. Delia C. Ramirez (D-Chicago) and Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) are scheduled to give remarks. Community leaders including Billy Ocasio, executive director of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, Jessie Fuentes, co-chair of the Puerto Rican Agenda, and Dr. Jesus Hernandez Burgos, director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center’s Public Health Initiatives, are also expected to speak.
During the parade, officials will honor a number of culturally significant anniversaries, including the 25th anniversary of the Puerto Rican flags that bookend “Paseo Boricua” and the 20th anniversary of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Art & Culture.
The virtual parade will also feature performances from AfriCaribe, Ivelisse “Bombera de Corazón” Díaz, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, UrbanTheater Company, Miss Universo Latina Plus 2019, Valeria Méndez, and the Miss Gay Puerto Rico Organization.
“In this time of the COVID-19 epidemic, and these trying moments in the struggle for social and racial justice, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center is honored to present, in partnership with HITN, our virtual 42nd Puerto Rican People’s Day Parade,” José E. López, executive director for the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, said in a news release.
In addition to the parade, HITN-TV will broadcast a one-hour special Sunday called ¡Tú Cuentas! Chicago which will feature performances and interviews with elected officials. The special will also explore the history of Humboldt Park’s Puerto Rican and Mexican communities. Chicago residents can watch the special on Comcast 647, DIRECTV 461, DISH 880 or U-verse 3055.
For the first time in about 40 years, the Puerto Rican parade and festival are being put on separately. A new group, called the Daniel Ramos Puerto Rican Festival Committee, took the helm of the festival last year. The group replaced the Puerto Rican Parade Committee, which was ousted after years of controversy and financial mismanagement that ended in an Illinois Attorney General investigation.
This year’s festival was initially going to be held virtually, but organizers scrapped that idea in solidarity with protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
Despite the festival cancelation, many took the Division Street stretch known as “Paseo Boricua” last weekend for unofficial caravan celebrations.
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