WBEZ | Parades http://www.wbez.org/tags/parades Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Puerto Ricans to alderman: ‘Hands off our parade’ http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-ricans-alderman-%E2%80%98hands-our-parade%E2%80%99-106504 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/puerto rican parade 2_1301404_cm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Chicago alderman&rsquo;s plan to combine long-competing Puerto Rican Day parades is inflaming old passions in Humboldt Park, a Northwest Side neighborhood in which thousands of residents have ties to the Caribbean island.<br /><br />&ldquo;The plan to cancel our parade was done behind closed doors by a few individuals with personal interest,&rdquo; said Julio Cruz, a former board member of the Puerto Rican Parade Committee of Chicago, which has held an annual procession downtown since 1965.<br /><br />&ldquo; &lsquo;Merging&rsquo; is the wrong term,&rdquo; Cruz said. &ldquo;Our parade was simply cancelled.&rdquo;<br /><br />Cruz joined two former committee presidents among some three-dozen supporters of the downtown parade at an angry news conference in the neighborhood Thursday afternoon. They slammed an agreement, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/long-dueling-puerto-rican-parades-merge-106435">announced Tuesday by Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th)</a>, to end that event and channel some of its resources into a lower-budget parade held since 1978 on West Division Street, a Humboldt Park thoroughfare.<br /><br />Cruz disputed Maldonado&rsquo;s claim that the downtown attendance had dwindled over the years. &ldquo;The purpose of our parade downtown is to showcase our culture, our people, our achievement &mdash; our failures maybe &mdash; to the rest of the city, not just to our <em>barrio </em>here,&rdquo; Cruz said.<br /><br />The conflict runs deeper than parade-route preferences. Several backers of the downtown event, including former Congressional candidate Héctor Concepción, said they wanted nothing to do with the Humboldt Park parade because its main sponsor, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, promotes the island&rsquo;s independence from the United States.<br /><br />Concepción, a Republican who challenged U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Chicago) last year, called cultural center Executive Director José López a&nbsp;&ldquo;communist&rdquo; with a hidden agenda. Concepción, who has pushed for Puerto Rican statehood, said the parade conflict has &ldquo;everything to do with the island&rsquo;s status.&rdquo;<br /><br />Supporters of the downtown event, held in Grant Park, are also upset about control of the committee. In November, some of them filed a Cook County Circuit Court suit against the committee and its leaders after they extended the term of committee President Angel Medina to four years from two.<br /><br />Biennial community elections for the president&rsquo;s post have long sparked acrimony in Humboldt Park. The job is unpaid but prestigious. The president traditionally oversees the downtown parade, a nearly-week-long Humboldt Park carnival that leads up to it, a community center called Casa Puertorriqueña, and programs such as children&rsquo;s karate and senior bingo. The winner also gets to hobnob with big-name politicians and represent the community on trips to New York, Florida and Puerto Rico.<br /><br />Candidates typically spend thousands of dollars on radio advertising and accuse one another of everything from misuse of committee funds to gang affiliations.<br /><br />Some neighborhood groups, including the cultural center and the Division Street Business Development Association, have pressed for an end to those elections. They have argued unsuccessfully for the president to be appointed by Humboldt Park nonprofit organizations.<br /><br />On Tuesday, Maldonado and López predicted a combined parade in Humboldt Park would bring more people to the neighborhood and help its merchants.<br /><br />Medina said holding the downtown parade cost roughly $45,000 a year. His committee and the cultural center have joined forces to contract with Chicago-based Special Events Management to run the Humboldt Park parade, planned for June 15 this year. The committee will retain control of the carnival, set for&nbsp;June 12-16.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 04 Apr 2013 16:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-ricans-alderman-%E2%80%98hands-our-parade%E2%80%99-106504 Puerto Rican parades to merge http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/long-dueling-puerto-rican-parades-merge-106435 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ParadeByCharlie.jpg" title="Young people waive Puerto Rican flags at the 2010 parade in Humboldt Park. (WBEZ/Charlie Billups)" /></div><p>A decades-old duel between Puerto Rican parades in Chicago is over. The group behind a procession through Grant Park every June has agreed to pull the plug on that 48-year-old tradition and channel resources into a lower-budget parade the same day in Humboldt Park, a Northwest Side neighborhood that has been the heart of the city&rsquo;s Puerto Rican community since the 1960s.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re making history,&rdquo; Angel Medina, president of the Puerto Rican Parade Committee of Chicago, said in Spanish at a Tuesday news conference announcing the merger. &ldquo;Two organizations, for more than 30 years [divided],&nbsp;finally are united and we do it for the good of the community.&rdquo;</p><p>Medina, whose committee sponsored the downtown parade, said holding that event cost roughly $45,000 a year. Medina said that was too much and pointed to dwindling attendance over the years. Starting this year, the&nbsp;committee will co-sponsor the neighborhood&nbsp;parade instead. The committee, meanwhile, will retain sole control of a Humboldt Park&nbsp;carnival that has taken place the same week as the parades.</p><p>The Puerto Rican Cultural Center initiated the Humboldt Park parade 35 years ago as a grassroots alternative to the downtown procession. While it has lacked floats as elaborate as those in the downtown parade, the&nbsp;neighborhood event has stood out for its promotion of Puerto Rican national identity and the island&rsquo;s independence from the United States.&nbsp;</p><p>Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) helped broker the merger. &ldquo;I think it is the right juncture to join both parades so that we can have a large Puerto Rican parade on that very important day for our community,&rdquo; he said at the news conference.</p><p>José López, the cultural center&rsquo;s executive director, predicted the merger would boost numbers at the Humboldt Park parade, held along West Division Street from North Western Avenue to Sacramento Boulevard. &ldquo;For our merchants, these are very difficult times,&rdquo; López said. &ldquo;We believe this will be a shot in the arm in terms of economic development.&rdquo;</p><p>The groups, both recognized by the federal government as nonprofit organizations, have contracted with Chicago-based Special Events Management to run the parade, planned for June 15 this year.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 02 Apr 2013 14:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/long-dueling-puerto-rican-parades-merge-106435 Mardis Gras recap: Parades soar, Brigsten's falls http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/mardis-gras-recap-parades-soar-brigstens-falls <p><p style="text-align: center;"><a rel="attachment wp-att-14991" href="/dolinsky/2010/02/eating-in-new-orleans-mardi-gras-style/14987 /img_3059"><img class="aligncenter" alt="" width="505" height="378" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//IMG_3059.jpg" /><br type="_moz" /></a></p><p style="text-align: left; ">Walking is again required after a doughy, sugary, caffeine-laced fuel-up. As we walked around the city, we noticed -- in addition to more &quot;Bless You Boys&quot; signs and &quot;We Dat&quot; placards, placed prominently in windows and storefronts -- that this football-crazy town was also completely immersed in some kind of crazy parade marathon. As a hick from Minnesota, I always thought that Mardi Gras meant a parade or two, followed by a big party on Fat Tuesday. What I didn't realize was that the parades had started in early January, and this weekend was the culmination, which meant two or three major parades <em>each day</em>. The parades are led and organized by Krewes, or clubs, with names like <a target="_blank" href="http://www.endymion.org/">Endymion</a> and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.kreweofbacchus.org/">Bacchus</a>, and they wind their way through downtown, Mid-City, Uptown and the Garden District -- preventing easy taxi access and seriously interrupting the streetcar service.</p><p style="text-align: left; "><!--break--> These aren't your run-of-the-mill Chicago floats with some bunting and a sign and a few people waving from plastic chairs, but rather, elaborate feats of construction with plaster and wood and paint; to get a spot on a Krewe's float is like scoring center ice tickets to a Blackhawks game. Not only do they stake out positions on these floats, but they are all decked out in full costume, usually wearing masks. The horseback riders accompanying the floats are also decked out, wearing masks and elaborate headgear, looking like guards in a Cirque du Soleil show heading to a private party being filmed by Stanley Kubrick. The attendants on the floats are charged with tossing hundreds (if not thousands) of multi-colored beads into the thronging masses that line the parade routes. People bring ladders, outfitted with what looks like makeshift chairs or enlarged toolboxes at the top, to allow for either sitting children or storing their bead stash. This height advantage also helps with actually grabbing the beads in mid-air. At one parade we caught coming down Canal Street, the float riders actually tossed out plastic spears, at least three-feet long; thankfully, Phil prevented me from being impaled like a satay skewer and nabbed the spear headed straight toward my head. Now I know why everyone in New Orleans is wearing dozens of beads around their necks: you can't walk more than a block or two during this weekend and not be hit over the head with someone tossing them out of a moving vehicle.</p><p style="text-align: left; ">While the guys were fighting over their beads and blocking-out their position on the sidewalk, I was busy trying to call <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nola.com/dining-guide/index.ssf/2009/10/domilises.html">Domilise's</a>, to make sure they were open. I had read and heard about this po-boy shack from a number of local experts. I knew that they had so much turnover that they had to have two deliveries every day from the famous <a target="_blank" href="http://www.leidenheimer.com/">Leidenheimer</a> Bread company. But alas, no answer meant I didn't to risk driving out there for nothing, so I called an audible, and went with Plan B: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.parkwaybakeryandtavernnola.com/">The Parkway Tavern</a>.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img class="size-full wp-image-15139" alt="" width="480" height="359" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//IMG_0167.jpg" /><br /><em>shrimp po-boy, fries, banana puddin' and gumbo from The Parkway Tavern</em></p><p>I had eaten at the Parkway about a year ago, during the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference. I'll never forget seeing octogenarian Chuck Williams (of Williams-Sonoma) walk outside and get into his long, black limo after trying their po-boys. I knew the boys would like it. What I didn't realize, however, was that there would be a ridiculous line. We had plenty of time to make decisions: Andy would have catfish, Barry went with fried oysters. Phil and Jon wanted shrimp and Mike wanted the &quot;surf and turf&quot; of shrimp with roast beef. I leaned toward the daily special of shrimp remoulade. All orders came &quot;dressed,&quot; that is, topped with shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, some pickles and mayo, and like all of the po-boys at Parkway, arrive on the one-of-a-kind Leidenheimer French bread: crisp exterior, with an easy, soft chew and a slightly dense interior that soaks up anything you put into it. The fried shrimp are plump, meaty and coated in a seasoned barrier that is as addictive as Phil's beignet moment. But the roast beef is a stunner: soft pieces, broken up into bite-sized bits, braised and roasted to the ultimate tenderness. We chow on cheddar fries and sweet potato fries -- both very good, then sample a banana pudding, rife with wafers, as well as a block of bread pudding the size of The Rock's fist. It's still steaming and warm, drenched in créme anglaise, and it is summarily devoured by the six of us. It's 4:30 p.m., and dinner is in less than four hours. A nap is in order.</p><p>We're going to <a target="_blank" href="http://www.brigtsens.com/">Brigsten's</a>, in Uptown, but we can't take the streetcar, because, of course, there's another parade that's about to start. We cab it to the Columns Hotel on picturesque St. Charles Ave. where we have a drink and take in the historic building -- site of Brooke Shields' first film, &quot;Pretty Baby.&quot; If it were warmer, we'd sit on the porch, but we opt to hang out in the shabby but well-worn bar.</p><p>We walk a few blocks to Napoleon Street, where the St. Charles streetcar is still operating. We'll ride it further West -- past Loyola and Tulane -- all the way to Carrollton Street, where we disembark and walk two blocks to the restaurant. At this point, we're still pretty full, but the menu looks promising. I've been to Brigsten's a few times, and while I love the charming, old-world feel of the place -- it's housed in a home that clearly was lived-in at one point -- we're sitting next to the fireplace mantle at a table that's really designed for four, not six. Did the hostess not notice that two of our group is well over 6 ft. tall? Pork tenderloin with sweet potato dirty rice and pork debris sounds amazing (it is) and the shrimp remoulade with deviled eggs as well as the barbequed shrimp are both solid. But the service is haphazard -- our waitress totally forgot to put in our first-course orders (we waited an hour for our first bites) and when they noticed we were drinking water instead of ordering a second round of cocktails, they just left us with a water pitcher. Classy. I remember having a similar experience here a year ago. The servers keep asking if everything is delicious, and in their folksy way, you can almost forgive some shortcomings. But the plating is sloppy and the overall experience left us wanting. Sunday morning is another day.</p><p><strong><em>Steve Dolinsky's Mardis Gras wrap up. #1: <a href="/dolinsky/2010/02/eating-in-new-orleans-mardi-gras-style/14987">Eating during Mardis Gras</a>, #2 <a href="../dolinsky/2010/02/cafe-du-monde-is-required-eating-in-new-orleans/15033">Cafe Du Monde</a>, #3: <a href="../dolinsky/2010/02/new-orleans-recap-parades-soar-brigstens-falls/15017">Parades and Brigstens</a> and #4: Jazz Brunch and Rachel Ray. </em></strong></p></p> Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/mardis-gras-recap-parades-soar-brigstens-falls