After a couple of groups organized separate parades and festivals for the Fiestas Patrias, which celebrated Mexican independence in September, Waukegan officials decided to get a head start by organizing events for 2024.
David Motley, the city’s public relations director, said this year the city wants a parade and festival for the Holidays. The application period for special events began on January 9 and two of a pair of groups arrived for both events.
City officials approved the request of Juntoz NFP, a local nonprofit, to organize the 2024 parade, and the request of Puro Futbol to manage the festival during a meeting Thursday at City Hall, to inform the two groups what is happening. expected of them.
When the application period opened, Motley said that Juntoz and Puro Futbol were looking to organize both events. The application for the Juntoz parade came just before Puro Futbol. The order was reversed for the festival.
“They came within moments of each other,” Motley said. “Juntoz NFP arrived first at the parade and Puro Futbol was the first at the festival.”
Motley said representatives from both groups met with Mayor Ann Taylor and the heads of city departments involved in special events (including the police department, fire department, public works and others) to ensure everyone involved understood obligations.
“This was an initial meeting to make sure that everyone would cooperate and collaborate with each other on these events,” he said. “We want everything to run smoothly.”
How well the preparations will go and the level of cooperation remains up in the air. Margaret Carrasco, who was the main organizer of Fiestas Patrias, which organized the other parade and festival last year, said Monday that she plans to participate again.
Carrasco requested a fee waiver on Jan. 3 to use parking at Waukegan High School’s Washington campus, as well as those at Robert Abbott and Miguel Juárez high schools, for the parade.
The Waukegan Community Unit School District 60 Board of Education approved the fee and use waiver at its Jan. 23 meeting. Nick Alatzakis, communications director for District 60, said in an email last week that approval is contingent on city approval for the parade organizer.
Before he could request the parade to be held, Carrasco said he had to secure staging areas. Otherwise, the request would not be valid. Motley said Monday that the city has not received a Fiestas Patrias request for parades or festivals.
“We have only received requests from Juntoz NFP and Puro Futbol to organize one parade and festival, and there will not be multiple parades or festivals on that date on city property,” he said.
Oscar Zepeda, owner of Puro Futbol, said Monday that he is planning the festival but is worried about the three directors of Juntoz.
Elizabeth Marrero, one of the directors of Juntoz, declined to comment via email.
Zepeda said that the purpose of the National Holidays is to celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1810, in a display of Mexican culture and customs, so that younger generations appreciate their traditions.
“It should unify the community,” he said, “the goal is to keep our traditions and culture alive. We want the next generation to know what it’s all about. “We want to do something good for the community.”
The parade is scheduled to begin at noon Sept. 15 and will head approximately east on Washington Street from Butrick Street to downtown, according to the application. The festival is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the city parking lot near Sheridan Road and Water Street.