The sky threatened, the thunder boomed and the lightning crackled across the horizon, but in the end, as it almost always does, the Guelaguetza Parade went off without any serious hitches.
Begun in 1932 in Oaxaca, Mexico to highlight the local indigenous cultures, the current celebration has morphed into a massive citywide event featuring music, art, dance, mezcal, and of course the parade.
With thousands of people lining the streets, fireworks announced the first participants, the Chinas Oaxaqueñas. Accompanied by the giant dancing puppets prominent at big celebrations across Oaxaca, the Chinas Oaxaqueñas are a traditional opening act for the parade to follow.
Soon the people were moving and dancing to the familiar melodies of the various delegations from across the state. Whether it was the famous pineapple girls from Tuxtepec or the lesser known groups from places like San Augustine Loxicha and Huatla de Jiménez, everyone lining the parade route seemed to know what was coming.
And that is part of the charm of this annual celebration. It is a collective celebration of the community of Oaxaca. Oversized puppets, masked men and women, dancing wolves and men with live turkeys, nothing surprised the crowd, and they would not have it any other way.
Yet all is not well for the celebration known as the Guelaguetza. In 2005 the main event, Lunes del Cerro, was expanded from 2 performances in July to 4, and the traditionalists howled citing a sellout to capitalism. This year we are hearing rumors of yet another expansion, adding an additional week to the celebration.
Also this year, while the parade was enjoyed by thousands of locals and visitors alike, longtime parade watchers were keenly aware of a cutback in parade participants. Coming in at just over an hour in length, many were left wondering what happened to the rest of their parade and why the end seemed to be a tad anti-climatic.
It will be interesting to see what the future will bring for the Guelaguetza, but one thing is certain. Even if the parade is shorter than in the past, the participants worked hard to shine and the people loved it, just as they always do. They just wanted the party to last a while longer.
Enjoy the pictures!