Arlington Heights doubled for Jerusalem on Sunday, as the Rev. Claudio Diaz, Jr. recreated Jesus' march into the city during a Palm Sunday procession from St. Thomas Villanova in Palatine to his home church of Mision San Juan Diego.
Dressed in a robe of gold and red and riding atop a horse, Diaz was accompanied on his journey by a huge crowd of parishioners wearing period costumes as Jesus' followers.
"We try to enhance what he lived 2,014 years ago," said procession leader Daniel Reyes, an Algonquin resident who has been affiliated with the Mision for 28 years. "The faith of the people moves us to do all this."
The walk bridged not only the gap between the two churches, but the generations as well. Reyes noted that people in their 80s and 90s have made the annual walk.
After assembling near the entrance to St. Thomas Villanova's religious education office, members of the procession marched holding palm leaves in the air, facing a cross and praying in Spanish. They followed Diaz and a van containing a choir to the Arlington Heights church.
One of those in period costume, Roberto Ortiz of Island Lake, said of the procession, "It reminds us of what Jesus suffered for us."
Jesus Segovia of Palatine said while the ceremony brings the community together. it was also family event for him and his daughters Ayleen, 7, Zarai, 6.
"First and foremost, it's a public declaration of our faith," Diaz said. "So by imitating our Lord Jesus Christ's entrance into the holy city of Jerusalem, we are trying to imitate him and to become like him. It's also a different way of bringing to the neighborhood that connection. There are many Catholic and Christian families here in the neighborhood. So when they see this, they understand. It is not a mere parade. It is a procession."
Watching the procession has become something of a tradition for Bill Richards and his wife, Karla, along with their 4-year-old son, Charlie. Karla Richards said she has seen the procession become more elaborate over the years.
Despite predictions of a shower, only a light rain accompanied the procession as it reached the church in Arlington Heights, greeted by a crowd chanting, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!" and "Hosanna!"