CHICAGO — Saturday's hot weather couldn't temper Puerto Rican Day pride as two parades snaked through city streets — one Downtown and a second in Humboldt Park.
For many, this year's parade was more than just a celebration. It was a chance to reflect on everything Puerto Rico has overcome since Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September.
"If you’re born in the U.S. and you [went] to Puerto Rico, [you used to hear], 'Oh, you’re from over there,'" Carlos Jimenez Flores said. "... So like now, you don’t hear that in the island anymore. It’s like now they understand that now we’re one.”
More than 2,000 refugee families have settled in Chicago following the disaster.
"People forget this," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, "but even the federal government could not get resources into Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The city of Chicago was the first."
The Chicago Fire Department led Saturday's parade in Humboldt Park. Twenty-two firefighters previously took their own vacation time to travel to Puerto Rico in the wake of the hurricane to act as first responders.
Despite setbacks on the island, people took to the streets Saturday to celebrate.
"If we’re the city of big shoulders and big hearts," Emanuel said, "we can build great communities.”