For the first time in Chicago’s history, the Paseo Boricua Flags of Steel in Humboldt Park will be lit up for the holiday season, starting Friday evening.
It is one of many holiday activations this season by Choose Chicago and the city designed to draw more foot traffic to Chicago’s neighborhood small businesses and less to the big box stores that local entrepreneurs are up against.
“We really wanted to highlight the amazing things happening in our neighborhoods,” said Rob Fojtik, vice president of neighborhood strategy for Choose Chicago. “We know that there are so many cool holiday things downtown in the central business district, but also that amazing things are happening across the city, in neighborhoods like Little Village.”
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, when you spend $100 at a small business, $48 stays in the community versus when you spend the same $100 at a big-box store or national retailer, only $14 stays.
Friday evening, in partnership with Little Village Chamber of Commerce, there will be a holiday toy drive and posada in Little Village, as well as the neighborhood’s annual tree lighting.
“We’re expecting over 1,000 children,” said Jennifer Aguilar, executive director of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce. “We want them to feel the joy that comes with seeing the lights, the Christmas decorations. Usually families have to go all the way downtown, so it being in our community will make it easier for them to access.”
Aguilar said that foot traffic tends to slow down for small business owners around the holidays in her community.
“A lot of our community sometimes looks for better prices, so they go to bigger box stores,” Aguilar said. “During the holidays, some of our businesses see some slow times, too, because of the weather. That’s why we’re so happy to have this event to bring people out to the community and encourage people to shop local.”
According to Aguilar, the Latino dollar tends to circulate fewer times compared to other cultures.
“The Latino dollar circulates around six times within a neighborhood compared to nine in the Asian community and an unlimited amount of times in the White community,” Aguilar said. “So it’s very important for us to spend money in our own communities in order for our communities to grow and develop and for positive things to happen.”
Also among this year’s events:
- Saturday, Dec. 2: Winter Lawndale Land Market in partnership with Light Up Lawndale
- Saturday, Dec. 9: Share the Love Winter Fest in partnership with Teamwork Englewood, Imagine Englewood If and Growing Home
According to Choose Chicago, the holiday activations program is funded by American Rescue Plan Act money earmarked for supporting small businesses’ recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.