Puerto Rican Day Parade Downtown? Some Want Newly-Combined Fest To Return To Grant Park

Just days after the city's two largest Puerto Rican Day parades announced they would join forces, supporters are already looking to take the beefed-up celebration out of Humboldt Park and back downtown.

CBS Chicago reports some activists have chafed at the decision to move the older downtown festival from Grant Park and combine it with the one in the city's thriving Puerto Rican neighborhood on the West Side.

“Downtown shows a Puerto Rican presence for the entire city and not just for a small group of people who will be watching it on Division Street,” Dr. Julio Cruz told the station.

Tuesday, the Puerto Rican Parade Committee of Chicago announced the merger of the 48-year-old downtown festival with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center's 35-year-old grassroots alternative parade in Humboldt Park, WBEZ reported.

Supporters of a downtown festival acknowledge it's too late to change the site of the 2013 parade, but told CBS they look to revive the discussion for next year. According to the Sun-Times, the Grant Park parade suffered from dwindling attendance in recent years, all at a cost of roughly $45,000.

While supporters of a return to Grant Park weren't explicit, the Humboldt Park parade has had issues with violence and disruptions in years past, most notably in 2011 when SWAT teams were called in for crowd control.

Still, there are others who are unfazed by the downtown exit. Zenaida Lopez, co-director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center's Vida/SIDA project told DNAinfo Chicago, "[The Humboldt Park parade] began because we wanted to celebrate here...sure, downtown's beautiful, it's touristy, a lot of things go on downtown, but it's not a Puerto Rican community."

Some 15,000 people are expected to attend this year's Puerto Rican People’s Parade, which starts June 15 at Division and Western beneath the iconic Puerto Rican flag on the "Paseo Boricua."