Parades – Power of the People
Parades and processions are making a comeback in San Miguel de Allende following the virus years. Like all living organisms, each have their own personalities and no two are exactly the same. Following Dia de Locos, our largest celebration and biggest tourism day of the year, it’s time to take a closer look why that is.
First off, a bit of word play. A parade is a civic event like kindergarteners dressed as flowers on the first day of Spring or tanks rolling down the street on Constitution Day. A procession is a faith-based event. A-OK to cross in front of a parade, not a procession. If you do, you’ll be tracked down and humiliated in the street for having crossing in front of God.
Dia de Locos was in honor of St. Anthony, patron saint of the lost things (“Tony, Tony come around something is lost and can’t be found.”) Consequently it is a procession and not to crossed (pun intended).
Processions came back to town on St. Joseph’s Day in mid-March which makes sense. Joseph is the most powerful saint, nearly every man’s first name (though most go by their middle name) and the model of Mexican male masculinity since the Conquest. Joseph’s processions were both numerous and brief.
The Locos, wild dancers, had two weeks of processions daily throughout the city leading up to Dia de Locos last Sunday. Again most were short and joyful. The kind I really enjoy being part of either as a spectator, helper or participant.
The actual procession on Dia de Locos I tend to avoid participating in. It is unique in that there is a definitive us (participants) versus them (spectators) vibe. Security is tight with Locos grouped and roped in by group like a krewe in Mardis Gras. Then additional barriers separate spectators from coming on to the street in a candy-induced frenzy.
Once, before the Dia de Locos procession I was in started, I had to piddle and pondered leaving my spot to use the bathroom at the nearby cemetery. Just then a lad beside me did something wrong and was immediately tackled by a cop that was quickly joined by a dozen other police officers, including some on horses, and yanked away.
It was then I realized I’d rather bust a kidney then step out of line (literally or figuratively).
It was an experience the polar opposite with the little Locos days before. Kids are thrilled to dress up and give away candy mostly to their parents and relatives that follow the procession through centro step by step. It’s adorable!
Last Thursday was Corpus Christi, a more solemn procession that I normally carry a candle atop a tall pole for. This year my instructions were to keep in line with the float carrying the communion wafer (star of the day). No problem, I’ve done this before and graduated with a 4.0, so I’m sure I can follow those directions.
I could not follow those directions.
Immediately upon descending the steps from the Parroquia the crowds pushed in like a tidal wave. In a matter of seconds I was a football field behind my assigned spot as were other Lumieres behind me.
The coordinator was furious signaling us to get to our spots. Granted I tower over the crowd, but what did he want us to do? Step on people’s heads to get back in place?
Eventually we got back to our assigned spots but I’ve never seen spectators so aggressive and that includes candy-starved people on Dia de Locos. Maybe being house bound for so long did a number on some’s assertiveness.
Granted, I’m use to the news reporters pushing and jabbing me to get where they want to film and I get it. That is their job. I’m also used to my fellow foreigners with a camera that tend to be equal parts aggressive and oblivious to what is going on around them. YouTube teems with those folks!
However, this year it was different. Yes, reporters but no foreigners as Corpus Christi is bit too spiritual for most. It was the Mexican pilgrims that normally follow the host around centro from the sidelines that needed to be closer. Again, perhaps a result of the virus years resulting in many requiring some extra heavenly help.
Somethings to keep in mind the next time you view a procession (or a parade). Each is unique and uniquely tied into the crowd watching.