HUMBOLDT PARK — Humboldt Park’s joy was on full display this past weekend for the neighborhood’s annual Puerto Rican parade and festival. Thousands descended on the neighborhood for the celebration, waving Puerto Rican flags and honking their horns.
But for some who drove to the park, the celebration ended in frustration.
A total of 69 cars parked along Humboldt Park’s namesake park were towed over the weekend for violating parking restrictions, said Mimi Simon said, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation. Of that, 43 cars were towed on Saturday and 26 Sunday, a majority of them from North Avenue, Simon said.
Humboldt Park resident Connor Sullivan said he watched at least 15 cars get towed from North Avenue during the Sunday evening festivities.
“It really upsets me to see the city take a good thing and to make it inaccessible for the people who live in Humboldt Park,” Sullivan said. “Not only did they try to take away parking, but by issuing tickets and towing cars, they are actively punishing the people of Humboldt Park for trying to take part in something that is supposed to be joyful.”
Cars were towed and drivers received tickets as thousands celebrated within the park and throughout Humboldt Park all weekend. Division Street between Western Avenue and Humboldt Boulevard, along with all intersecting cross streets, were closed to car traffic, causing traffic jams in every direction and making parking around the area nearly impossible.
After a night of hanging out at the Puerto Rican festival with her two friends, Vanessa came back to her car Saturday evening to find it missing.
Vanessa, who asked that her last name not be published, had parked on the south side of North Avenue near four or five other cars. She said there were no signs restricting parking, and a nearby police officer assured her she could legally park there. But when she arrived at the spot, that same officer confirmed her car had been towed.
“I’ve lived in Chicago my whole life, and I know what the signs look like. That was very confusing,” she said.
Like Sullivan, Vanessa, a resident of neighboring Logan Square, said it’s disappointing the city and tow truck companies zeroed in on the Puerto Rican parade and festival, an event that draws people from all over the Midwest.
“It’s frustrating, especially for people who are not from the area. Your car gets impounded, and then they’re relying on Uber, which is upcharging,” she said.
Chicago police spokesman Rocco Alioto couldn’t say how many tickets police issued at this year’s parade and festival compared to past years.
Vanessa said she’s contesting her $100 ticket, but she’s still out $175, the cost of getting her car out of the tow yard.
“Here I am just enjoying myself, in my own neighborhood, and this is what happens,” she said.
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