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Hola es su centro para mantenerse informado, compartir ideas y conectarse con recursos. (Hola is your hub to stay informed, share ideas, and connect with resources in northern Illinois.)

Organizers gear up for Mexican Independence Day celebration in Rockford

Pedro Rubalcaba stands next to fellow horsebacker rider on his family ranch, Rancho Tigre, in Winnebago County, Sept. 2023.
Maria Gardner Lara
Pedro Rubalcaba stands next to fellow horsebacker rider on his family ranch, Rancho Tigre, in Winnebago County, Sept. 2023.

Mexican Independence Day is being commemorated in Rockford with the aim of spurring cultural pride and economic activity in the area.

Eleventh Ward Alderman Isidro Barrios, his wife Melanie Barrios, and the city are hosting the festivities that include a parade and festival.

“Every big city that you go, there is always a celebration for the Mexican Independence Day,” Ald. Barrios said. “So, we're going to bring that here in Rockford.”

The parade will feature horseback riders in traditional clothing called traje de charro.

Pedro Rubalcaba, one of the horseback riders participating in the event, said the parade gives Mexican and Mexican Americans the opportunity to showcase their pride and heritage.

“It's our traditions, our cultures, where we come from, and it's something that we want to show the young crowd,” he said.

The parade starts at noon on the corner of Broadway and Kishwaukee Street and ends at Keye-Mallquist Park. Following the parade, the festival at the park begins and will include food vendors, live music, and bounce houses for the kids.

El Grito

El Grito celebration in Rockford

On the eve of the celebration, Ald. Barrios is hosting El Grito at the Barrios Community Center.

El Grito, translated as "the cry" in English, commemorates when over two hundred years ago, a Catholic priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in Dolores, Mexico, gave a rousing speech and rallied the people to fight for independence from Spain.

Mexican communities across the world host these remembrances.

The biggest tribute is held in Mexico City, with the nation’s president leading chants that recall the names of the heroes in the war of independence. Crowds respond to each name with the same refrain- “Viva,” that their memory lives on.

“Those are the names that start everything, and thanks to them we have freedom,” Barrios said.

Northern Illinois University

To kick of Latino Heritage Month, Northern Illinois University is hosting an opening parade in the MLK Commons on the NIU DeKalb campus at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13. At NIU's Latino Center, they’ll host El Grito from 6 to 9 p.m.

Rockford’s Mexican Independence Day parade is on Saturday, Sept. 16, at noon and begins on Broadway and Kishwaukee Street. The festival runs from 1-10 p.m. at Keyes-Mallquist Park at 1702 11th St., Rockford, IL.

El Grito will be held on Friday, Sept. 15, from 8-10 p.m. at El Barrio Community Center located at 1516 Broadway, Rockford, IL.

A Chicago native, Maria earned a Master's Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield . Maria is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America. RFA is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit journalism organization. Un residente nativo de Chicago, Maria se graduó de University of Illinois Springfield con una licenciatura superior en periodismo de gobierno.