If you’re within two to three blocks of Unity Park (2636 N. Kimball Ave.) on Sept. 1, you’ll hear the catcalling of wrestlers and the roar of the crowd Lucha Libre, sponsored by the Unity Park Advisory Council. Lucha Libre, a free and family-friendly wrestling event, is held on the first Saturday of every September with the talented wrestlers from Midwest Wrestling.
The multiple matches are from 12 p.m.– 2 p.m., so get there early. If it’s anything like last year, the park itself will be crowded like a rock concert by the first match. Anyone who was a WWE/wrestling fan or just vaguely curious about wrestling was there, lining the sidewalk and we were not disappointed.
Last year, as they set up yellow caution tape around the border of the ring, I asked myself, “What do they need that for?” Once the first match started and bodies started flying out of the ring, I realized that the caution tape was there to keep the kids from being crushed by 200-pound athletes—men and women who weren’t there to play patty cake.
There are many colorful characters at the event this year, such as returning champion Mike Strong versus Ricky The Janitor /El Hermoso. Last year my favorite was The French Cactus, a sneering, first-class cad with a French accent who literally took candy from a baby. The referee went under the moniker—I kid you not—Mr. Seymore Butts. This was an afternoon of crazy wrestler antics, cheers and boos and fresh air. It was glorious.
Along with the UPAC and members of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, there are a great many local sponsors, like Play Logan Square, Raul’s Repair Service as well as Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and IL State Senator Iris Martinez. The event lasts the full two hours; I’m not sure who works harder—the wrestlers in the ring or the helado vendor, scooping out tasty icees to customers under a blazing sun. There are always raffles and merch from your favorite wrestlers, all of whom are friendly and willing to take photos.
Grab your friends, get a good seat near the front of the ring and bring plenty of water. The sun will peek out around 12 p.m. and the temperature will climb into the low 80s until about 4 p.m. Immerse yourself in the adrenaline high of the crowd, and enjoy the action.
To see photos from the 2017 Lucha Libre event, visit Erik Island on Flickr.