MEXICO CITY – An overcast sky and a persistent drizzle highlighted the colorful floats and troupes taking part on Saturday in an eclectic parade that marked the culmination of the festivities for the Day of the Dead in Mexico City.
More than 3,000 artists, 12 allegorical floats and 50 troupes moved through the iconic Paseo de la Reforma, Avenida Juarez and Cinco de Mayo Street, flanked by Mexican marigold flowers planted along much of the route as well as thousands of citizens and tourists admiring the spectacle.
The parade passed several landmarks of the capital – Estela de Luz (a monument built in 2011 to commemorate the bicentenary of Mexico’s independence from the Spanish rule), la Diana Cazadora (Huntress Diana Fountain), el Angel de la Independencia (The Angel of Independence), la Glorieta de Colon (monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus) – among others, before arriving at the La Plaza de la Constitucion, commonly known as El Zocalo, in the city’s historic center around 4 pm.
The participants was greeted with cheers and applause by the spectators, among whom were families with their faces painted like La Calavera Catrina (Elegant Skull) – a zinc etching by Mexican printmaker, cartoon illustrator and lithographer Jose Guadalupe Posada – which has become an icon of the Mexican Day of the Dead.
Dancers wearing indigenous costumes moved to the sound of drums evoking the Hispanic roots of the celebration, which incorporated elements of Catholic Christianity, brought to the country by Spanish conquerors and settlers in the 16th century.
There were tributes to figures of art and culture, such as painter Francisco Toledo, singer Jose Jose and historian Miguel Leon Portilla, who have died in recent months.
The floats also made a reference to the mythology of the Aztecs – the indigenous people who were dominant in the pre-Hispanic era – such as the Mictlan or underworld, as well as more recent figures such as Macarius, the main character in the 1960 film of the same name.
“We are celebrating our identity and remembering our relatives who died,” 15-year-old Yunuen, who had painted her face like a skull, told EFE.
Her mother, Sonia, explained that she had endeavored to instill in her children the Day of the Dead tradition, which was added to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2008.
The parade marked the high point of the activities that the government of Mexico City has organized since Oct. 19 for this year’s Day of the Dead festival, including exhibitions, conferences, plays and offerings.