MILAUKEE — Milwaukee's Mexican community celebrated Mexico's Independence Day with a car parade that lasted for hours and cookouts on the south side of the city.
"We're out here to celebrate our heritage. Celebrate everybody that's part of America. We just want to show everybody what unity looks like," said Rodolfo Garcia, who was selling Mexican flags with his mother along Cesar Chavez Drive.
Mexican Independence Day falls on September 16th, but celebration organizers received permission to hold events on the weekend.
Far from Mexico, the country’s culture and its people’s contributions cannot be understated in Milwaukee.
“We play a huge economic role. I think we do make up a big, predominant area in Milwaukee, and we’re only growing," said Garcia.
Metro Milwaukee’s Hispanic or Latino population nearly doubled over the past 20 years, reaching around 170-thousand people.
Today, nearly 20 percent of the city's population is Hispanic or Latino.
A Greater Milwaukee Foundation study in 2012 counted more than four-thousand Hispanic-owned businesses in the city.
“I think all of us play a role in everybody’s communities. Because we do a little bit of everything," said Manuel Flores, who works in construction.
Others he said make up his community and part of the city's workforce as Mexicans and Americans.
"It’s independence for us, and we also celebrate independence for the 4th of July," said Garcia.