WBEZ | Puerto Rican Parade Committee of Chicago http://www.wbez.org/tags/puerto-rican-parade-committee-chicago 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