CHICAGO — People in a West Side area neighborhood are fighting to get a popular festival relocated.
The Mole de Mayo Festival has been around for 15 years in the Pilsen neighborhood. Over the past eight years, festivities commenced on 18th Street between Blue Island and Ashland. The street fest celebrates Mexican culture and food and includes local vendors, music, and art.
This year the festival returns on Memorial Day Weekend after a pandemic-induced hiatus. Some residents aren’t praising the comeback, however.
Some residents and business owners along 18th Street say the Mole de Mayo Festival is disruptive and detrimental to businesses. Some who live along the roadway also say the festival has significant downsides for several business owners and the people who live in the area: parking issues, noise, and festivalgoers spilling out onto their properties.
Ald. Alderman Byron Sigcho Lopez (25th Ward) has proposed the festival’s relocation to a lot in the area.
Organizers with the Economic Strategies Development Corporation, which puts on Mole de Mayo, say they have heard from only a tiny amount of constituents who want the festival moved.
For the most part, organizers believe people in Pilsen want the festival to stay at its current location.
“Having a festival of that size, it is inconvenient for some people, but there are more benefits to having this type of cultural festival in the neighborhood,” Jaime Garza with Economic Strategies Development Corporation said.
One 18th Street resident disagrees.
“We have issues, everything from parking to cleanliness. We have people urinating, defecating, vomiting from being drunk behind our homes, in our alleys, in our front yards,” Victoria Romero said. “There was a fire that someone with mental illness, unfortunately, started a few years ago in one of the storefronts.”
The alderman and organizations involved in the event will meet on Monday with community businesses and residents to discuss the location.