Living in San Miguel de Allende, since cinco de Mayo, or May 5th, when I moved here from Guanajuato city, has been an ongoing adventure of discovery with both the local culture as well as meeting expats and foreigners who have decided to live here. We are into the rainy season, and that alone has been quite an experience. There were rainy days before and after the parade, so the gods of sun and rain were smiling on this day....June 17 2018 - the craziest day of the year in San Miguel de Allende, in a tradition that goes back to the 1700's.
Back in the day, Hortelanos - farm workers - were given free access to crops for a day or two and they celebrated and danced as a result. Soon the dances became more interesting as some men would dress up as women since there were not many or any at the celebrations. When more and more people heard about this party they would come to watch, and as a result the dancers would dress in a way that seemed "loco" or crazy to scare the crowds off so that they could have their privacy.
This became an annual tradition that now has about 15,000 people participating and thousands of others lining the streets to watch the parade of "locos" composed of costumes, masks, dancing, loudspeakers blaring music from the back of pickup trucks, candy being thrown out to the crowds, and one big Mardi Gras type of street party that lasts about three hours. (For participants I have heard that the party continues late into the night)
Read more details about the tradition and history from the local newspaper La Atencion
The parade consists of one cuardro or team after another, each one having a central theme for their costumes and masks. More and more teams have formed over the years, and are seen with the wide diversity of themes and creative costumes and masks.
I was fortunate enough to secure a standing room only spot on the corner of Relox and San Francisco surrounded by locals and visitors from out of town. I must have been the only gringo in that small area which was fine. I enjoyed practicing my Spanish and hanging out with Mexican people all excited about the parade. The thousands that lined the streets were very lucky as the rain that happened in the days before and after did not happen during the parade.
The varieties of costumes, masks, music, dance and celebration were amazing. The cuardos or teams showed their pride in their detailed dress and performances. Candy was thrown out to the crowd, and umbrellas were turned upside down to catch some !
The mood of the crowd was very festive and people came to San Miguel de Allende from as far as Mexico City to watch the "dia de los locos". It was truly the craziest day of the year.