Mexican Independence Day festival in Milwaukee celebrates culture, freedom

NOW: Mexican Independence Day festival in Milwaukee celebrates culture, freedom

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee's Hispanic community had an early celebration for Mexican Independence Day during a festival Saturday, Sept. 10.

The festival in Bay View, organized by UMOS, brought together hundreds of people to celebrate Mexican culture.

Mexican Independence Day is on Sept. 16, the day Mexico declared freedom from Spain in 1810.

This is UMOS' 49th year holding a celebration for the Mexican tradition.

"I'm from Mexico and every year we celebrate this day. It's very important to us because it's freedom for our country," said attendee, Gio Velasquez.

The gathering shared Mexican culture through music, handmade merchandise and food.

The event had to be cancelled for the last two years due to COVID.

The festival's organizer, Carmen Lerma, was hit especially hard by the pandemic.

"I actually was a survivor. A COVID survivor. I had a double lung transplant done," Lerma said. "So after almost 5 months in the hospital, I came back and this is what I wanted to do."

The festival's return is extra special for Lerma, and for UMOS, a non-profit organization that helps Milwaukee's Hispanic population.

"We do so much for the community, but the community also does a lot for us. So, we want to give back in any way possible," Lerma said.

Above all, it's a meaningful tradition, showing appreciation and love for Milwaukee's Mexican community and culture.

"It's very important to know where you come from," said attendee, Joselin Granillo.

Organizers with UMOS hope their 50th anniversary of the festival next year will be their biggest one yet.

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