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Chicago issues warning ahead of Mexican Independence Day celebrations

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications issued an alert Thursday warning that "car caravans that create a threat to public safety will not be tolerated"

Mexican Independence Day takes place this weekend, bringing with it a number of festivities, but with the celebrations also comes preparation for crowds and traffic -- and a warning from city officials.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications issued an alert Thursday saying the city will be working throughout the weekend to "manage traffic and public safety," but warned that "car caravans that create a threat to public safety will not be tolerated."

"We also remind everyone that drag racing and drifting are not only illegal, but dangerous," the agency said. "Anyone in violation of the ordinance will be held accountable."

The department urged those celebrating the annual commemoration of culture "to do safely and responsibly."

"We remind those participating in events to be respectful of their neighbors and communities, as well as workers at critical facilities such as hospitals. They should also be mindful of first responders and emergency vehicles that are required to pass through areas where celebrations are occurring citywide," the OEMC statement read.

Here's what to know:

Public Safety

In recent years, Mexican Independence Day celebrations have led to a number of street closures in the city as revelers gathered.

While OEMC noted that the city and police department have been preparing for the festivities, Chicago Ald. Brendan Reilly issued an alert to downtown residents warning "there may be a large number of cars in caravans related to the celebration."

"As residents may know, in past years, the caravan has traveled downtown causing traffic congestion and noise disturbances," Reilly said.

While Reilly and the city both noted that there are no street closures planned as of Thursday, outside of those slated for parade routes, some could be implemented should caravans arrive in the city.

According to Reilly, if street closures are implemented, the following access points to downtown will remain open to residents and employees:

  • North Halsted and West Division
  • North Halsted and West Chicago
  • North Halsted and West Washington
  • North Halsted and West Madison
  • South Halsted and South Jackson
  • West Roosevelt and South Union
  • 18th Street and South State
  • 18th Street and South Michigan
  • 18th Street and South Indiana 
  • West Division and North LaSalle

"CPD will not require residents to produce a driver's license or access pass at the above checkpoints," he said.

It's important to note that, in addition to the Mexican Independence Day festivities, several other major events will also be taking place this weekend, adding to the potential for traffic.

Riot Fest, Karol G's Soldier Field concert, a White Sox game and a United Center performance by 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and Jeremiah add to the busy weekend in the city.

Mexican Independence Day Parade

Telemundo Chicago will offer a broadcast of the highly anticipated event, which is scheduled to begin at noon on Sept. 16.

This year's parade will be special in that it takes place on the actual date of Mexican Independence Day and on a Saturday for the first time ever.

It will feature a theme of "Tu Mexico, Tu Chicago," with each Mexican state represented.

Penelope Menchaca, host of Telemundo’s popular national morning news and entertainment program “Hoy Día,” will be the Parade Marshal for the 2023 event.

"We are thrilled to partner with Telemundo Chicago, and having Penelope Menchaca as our Parade Marshal adds a special touch to this iconic event," said Jennifer Aguilar, executive director of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce.

Telemundo Chicago, along with the NBC Chicago News 24/7 streaming channel, will carry the parade live from 12-1 p.m. CT. (NOTE: The parade will continue to be carried live on the NBC Chicago News streaming channel until 1:30 p.m. Details here)

“We are honored to partner with our friends at The Little Village 26th Street Area Chamber of Commerce on this very special joint venture,” Carmen Vega director of special projects and community relations for NBC Chicago, said in a statement. “Telemundo Chicago prides itself on being the voice of Chicago’s Hispanic community and we look forward to delivering expanded, live coverage of the beloved ‘Mexican Independence Day Parade’ to our viewers on multiple platforms.”

Telemundo Chicago’s Alfonso Gutiérrez, Anabel Monge and Héctor Lozano will be the among the featured talent covering this year’s parade.

Other Mexican Independence Day Events

According to the city, other events this weekend include:

2023 El Grito Family Run/Walk 5K – Little Village

Saturday, September 16, 10 a.m. – Noon

The annual El Grito 5K starts at the corner of 26th Street and Kostner and proceeds to Kedzie Avenue where participants turn and head back down 26th Street to Manual Perez, Jr. Plaza. For details, visit

Annual Mexican Patriotic Parade – Commercial Avenue

Sunday, September 17, 1 p.m. (Assembly begins at 10 a.m.)

The parade route will head south along Commercial Avenue from 87th Street to 100th Street and disband at 101st Street to 103rd Street.

What is Mexican Independence Day?

Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on Sept. 16 and marks the anniversary of the country's declared independence from Spain.

While it has been routinely confused with Cinco de Mayo by some in the U.S., the two days are very different.

According to the Library of Congress, Sept. 16 marks the moment in 1810 when "Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla summoned the largely Indian and mestizo congregation of his small Dolores parish church and urged them to take up arms and fight for Mexico’s independence from Spain.

"His 'El Grito de Dolores,' or Cry of Dolores, which was spoken—not written—is commemorated on September 16 as Mexican Independence Day," the library states.

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