Elaborate costumes are a feature of the Mexico City parade. Elaborate costumes are a feature of the Mexico City parade.

An estimated 2.6 million people turn out to watch Day of Dead parade

Some people said they were there to rescue the tradition from being taken over by Halloween

A record 2.6 million people attended the International Day of the Dead Parade in Mexico City on Sunday.

The crowd was more than six times larger than the 400,000 who turned up for September’s Independence Day military parade, and dwarfs the 200,000 attendees of the 2008 March for Peace parade, which had held the record until this year.

Traffic in the area was stalled most of the day, as the parade ran from 2-8:00pm.

Not even the capricious rains of the Mexican capital could deter the vast crowd of onlookers, many of whom had waited up to three hours to see the monumental figures and floats pass by.

Attendees waiting in the zócalo hours before the event began said they were there to rescue the Day of the Dead tradition, as Halloween has garnered enough popularity in Mexico to compete, and in places outshine, the indigenous festival in recent years.

Day of the Dead comes alive in the capital on Sunday.
Day of the Dead comes alive in the capital on Sunday.

The parade began with a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring invited ambassadors from the United States, Bolivia, Pakistan and Hungary, to give the event a strong international impact.

Contrary to another Mexican tradition, the parade began at 2:00pm on the dot with a 150-strong marching band that played songs from Mexico and other Latin American countries over the nine-kilometer route.

A gigantic Xoloitzcuintle dog puppet followed, leading excited attendees on their trip into the Aztec underworld of Mictlán, the first of four themed blocks of spectacles. Also in this block were a giant puppet representing the Aztec god of death, Mictlantecuhtli, and a giant Catrina, the classy skeleton woman imagined by artist José Guadalupe Posada.

The following segments were themed Skeleton Carnival, Arts and Culture and, finally, La Fiesta (The Party).

Despite the record numbers of people, Mexico City police reported not one incident of violence, theft or other law-breaking associated with the event.

City authorities say the parade compares only with Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in terms of the number of people who attended.

The parade itself was a kilometer long and featured nine floats and 18 giant puppets.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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