June is not Mardi Gras time but the second Sunday has brought the people of San Miguel de Allende in Central Mexico an opportunity for fun and entertainment for now nearly 400 years. Nearly 100,000 (the mayor’s office claims 200,000) people watched the parade along the narrow streets of San Miguel featuring over 8,000 participants dressed in multiple disguises.
Rumor has it that in the old non-Catholic times, farmers of Chichimec and Otomi tribes offered their produce to old deities. In times of syncretism, the festivity to celebrate the food availability was converted into a festivity to honor Italian priest Saint Anthony of Padua.
But regardless of its origins, the Parade of the Mad People (desfile de locos) continued to be a fiesta for the people without any real religious inkling. It attracts mostly young people willing to wear a costume and dance during four-straight hours under the hot and partially dry end of the spring season. Performers do work up a sweat!
There are several different types of performers, all of whom must register with the organizing foremen to participate. Among the 52 set designs involved, there are over two dozen groups who stage themed dances and floats. But a large majority prefers to do it alone to get to choose the character they want to portray and satirize, which range from politicians, saints, artists and even religious leaders.
In today’s interpretation, the different portrayals change every year and the parade is different from year to year.
Since there are many children participating in it, many of the floats are replays of Disney and science fiction characters ranging from obvious Mickey Mouse to Transformers and Star Trek imitations.
The yearly logistics to prepare for the Locos Parade start five months earlier with the leaders of the neighborhoods (barrios) holding meetings along with the Public Safety and Transit Secretariat, Civil Protection, the Red Cross, and the Culture and Traditions, Taxation and Markets directors to make sure the parade is orderly with all the mad people under control.
In past Sunday’s parade, there were only 10 incidents reported, including several persons who fainted due to lack of water, a four year old child with a cardiac background and a woman with diabetes.
The Parade of the Locos is San Miguel de Allende’s second most important local tradition after the city’s patron saint day celebrated at the end of September.