CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fiesta del Sol kicked off Thursday night with rides, food and fun in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood.
This year, the festival will also include an emphasis on preparing Chicago's Latino community for the upcoming census amid fears about the threat of deportations.
With more than 1 million people expected over the next four days, it's an important festival for retailers.
"We try to spread our culture," merchant Brenda Lozano said.
Now in its 47th year, Fiesta Del Sol began as a block party but now takes up a mile-long stretch of Cermak that is packed with hundreds of thousands of people.
Organizers are expecting huge crowds all weekend, despite fear and uncertainty about federal threats to deport undocumented residents. They are reassuring the community that they will be safe here.
"There is no way that ICE is going to be coming to Fiesta," said Teresa Fraga, of Pilsen Neighbors.
"This is a great way to celebrate what makes us so special, so unique," said Ald. Byron Sichgo-Lopez, 25th Ward.
Gates opened Thursday night at 5 p.m. The festival continues through Sunday evening.