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Sueños Festival, peace march among Memorial Day weekend events to kick off summer

Youth Peace Walk held in Humboldt Park
Youth Peace Walk held in Humboldt Park 02:10

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With Memorial Day weekend underway, it's the unofficial start to summer across the Chicago area. In Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood, hundreds gathered for a youth peace walk. In Grant Park, thousands gathered for the two-day Sueños Festival. And Saturday night was the first night of summer fireworks at Navy Pier. 

Festivals and fireworks are two things to bring people out and make the City of Chicago shine. But it all must be done safely, and that's why the city has a plan that keeps police out in full force. 

Colorful flags whipped in the winds as thousands made their way to the Sueños Festival in Grant Park. 

"Perfect weather right now. I don't know about tomorrow, but whatever it is, I will enjoy the most of it," said Stephanie Lopez. 

She came from Addison to enjoy the festival for the first time as it celebrates who she is. 

"I'm half Puerto Rican, half Mexican, so it was perfect to come to this festival because its a little mix of Mexican and Puerto Rican music," she said. 

The two-day festival features nearly two dozen artists and attracts people from all over the country. Salvador Gaudoa came from Virginia to celebrate his birthday at the festival, but he couldn't make the trip without his girlfriend and his parents. 

Aside from festival-goers, Chicago Police were out in full force, manning every corner. On Friday, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson unveiled his $100 million summer safety plan that includes anti-violence programs, restorative justice initiatives, and paid jobs. The mayor did not mention police efforts, but Police Supt. Larry Snelling said unlike previous years, the department is trying to limit how many days off are canceled for officers, with officers stationed at all beaches and throughout the downtown area. 

"They make sure their presence is known, and, you know, I feel good."

Just west of downtown in Humboldt Park Chicago's Youth for Peace walk kicked off. Hundreds of people at this Memorial Day Weekend walk and festival called for peace as summer approaches. 

"Today is the beginning of Memorial Day weekend, which has been one of the most violent weekends in the city of Chicago."

For nearly 30 years, city leaders, various violence intervention organizations, victims, and survivors of gun violence have shown up for the event. 

It's an emotional event to call for peace of violence against youth.

Some of those in attendance are survivors there to tell their own stories. 

The event continued at the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse with food, games, performances, and resources for those in the community. 

Ald. Jessie Fuentes (26th) spoke about why the event and resources for housing and unemployment are needed. 

"The March in itself is symbolic. It's our call for peace," Fuentes said. "But then, what are you doing in action to create peace in your community? And that's making sure you're bringing the resources that families deserve. So this component of the peace march is a new component that my office wanted to make sure we were accommodating and bringing together."

Others, like Maribel Romero, who has attended the event for the last 12 years, say these are the events that provide hope for a better future. 

"What a better place to advocate for violence prevention, stop the shooting, and try to help one another," she said. 

The Sueños Festival continues Sunday in Grant Park. Anyone who wants to see them can catch the fireworks this summer on Wednesday nights at 9 and Saturday nights at 10. 

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