Multiple streets were closed downtown due to Mexican Independence Day traffic, according to city officials Tuesday night, with closures reported in Little Village as well.
The closures were in the area of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications said in a tweet Tuesday night, the eve of Mexico’s Independence Day on Sept. 16.
NotifyChicago: Multiple street closures in the area of Michigan and Wacker due to Mexican Independence Day traffic. Seek alternate routes.
— Chicago OEMC (@ChicagoOEMC) September 16, 2020
A Sun-Times photographer downtown saw Chicago police blocking southbound on Michigan Avenue at Ohio Street. Most exits into the downtown area from Lake Shore Drive were also shut down, but bridges weren’t raised.
Chicago police are blocking all southbound traffic on Michigan Ave. at Ohio St. as hundreds of people in their cars take to the streets to celebrate Mexican independence day. Also nearly all exits into the downtown area from LSD are shutdown as well. #Chicago pic.twitter.com/O6fjf34ZKy
— Tyler LaRiviere (@TylerLaRiviere) September 16, 2020
Although bridges weren’t raised, police had travel downtown restricted.
A car caravan was seen gathered on Columbus Drive around 10:48 p.m. Tuesday.
Closures extended into Little Village on the Southwest Side, where 26th Street could be seen closed between Sacramento and Kedzie avenues. Hundreds of cars drove through the historically Mexican American neighborhood flying large Mexican flags, horns blowing at pedestrians who encouraged them from the sidewalk with banners of their own.
Neither OEMC nor Chicago police immediately provided details about the closures.
Edgar Hernandez, a lifelong Little Village resident, says this is the first time he’s seen police block off streets during the annual car caravans celebrating Mexican Independence Day.
“We do this every year — it’s like a tradition — we go downtown, meet up on Pulaski or wherever you meet up, and then everyone just leaves,” Hernandez said. “We’re just cruising, I don’t feel like we’re up to no good. We’re just literally cruising, beeping, ‘Viva Mexico,’ and that’s it.”
Hernandez expressed frustration at the blockages, saying that they only complicate traffic in the area. He noted that Monday he dropped his daughter off at home but had trouble returning to the area because of the closures.
“Not everybody is doing this; some people are just trying to get home,” Hernandez said.
Though Tuesday’s festivities celebrated the Grito de Dolores, the call to arms that set off Mexico’s war for independence from Spain in 1810, Hernandez expects the Independence Day celebrations Wednesday to be even more jubilant.
“They’re not going to stop us, man,” Hernandez said. “Viva Mexico.”
Contributing: Tyler LaRiviere