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The Truth About Spanish Fiestas - Parade Day

By Mr Grumpy - Mon 16th Aug 2010

Our local fiestas take place over the first two weeks of August every year. Always the same – this has been the case over at least the last 30 years – maybe even more. I suppose what I am getting at is this – that they don’t come as a surprise, unannounced so to speak.

One of the most important days on the fiesta calendar is the day of the parade. It seems to involve all of the community – young and old, Spaniards and expats, businesses and individuals, and it can often seem to the bystander that there are more participants than there are spectators.

So before the date of the parade a few parents from my daughter’s nursery decided that, as this was to be her last year at nursery before starting pre-school, a special effort should be made to participate in the parade with a float of some kind.

After attending a number of informal meetings to get things moving forward, things stumbled and fell on the preceding week due to there being ‘insufficient time’ to get things sorted. It was beyond frustrating – all that was required was to stick a bit of tinsel on the trailer of the guy who had agreed to let us use his tractor and put the kids in some kind of themed fancy-dress, but no! The Spanish tendency to make indecision and messing about into a high art form won through in the end – and after all, we all knew exactly when the parade date was set to be so why the excuse about insufficient time ?

It was especially frustrating for my Mrs as her former profession in the UK was an Event Organiser, so she could have arranged something like this on her own on one afternoon – if only it wasn’t for our total lack of understanding of Valenciano!

So when the day of the parade came we (and many of the families of my daughter’s friends) were there as spectators as opposed to participants.

We hung around the Town square with a number of other parents, unsure as to what the route of the parade was to be, where the start or point was to be, or the exact start time. Maybe after six years in Spain this should have come as no surprise.

After waiting in the square and enjoying a beer or seven, whilst the kids played on the swings, there were signs of the parade approaching. Everyone moved to the side of the road to watch as the procession started – led by the Policia Local who were effectively clearing the road to make it safe (Yes – you did read that correctly, a slight nod towards health and safety there !)

The parade began with the very youngest – a load of Mums dressed up as angels pushing a flotilla of buggies full of babies, maybe 1 years old or so, dressed up as Devils. Quite appropriate in many cases.

Next came a number of tractors pulling various floats that the slightly older kids had decorated. Quite a number of them centred on the obvious topical ‘World cup champions’ theme and it seemed that ‘Pablo el Pulpo’ featured quite heavily in more than one of them.

The Teenagers (most of them Festeros) seemed to have the best designed floats, and seemed to be having the best time. Those lucky enough to have begged or borrowed a tractor and trailer at least had somewhere to put their beer and wine, whilst most of those who weren’t that lucky at least had the ingenuity to centre their piece around a number of Supermarket trolleys. It was particularly amusing to see a group of around 12 teenagers dressed as Matadors etc... chasing a number of Supermarket trolleys that they had decorated as Bulls and Horses mimicking a bull fight, only to keep pushing the mane of the 'horse' to one side to reach for an occasional beer.

Another peice utilised the trolleys – this time decorated as aeroplanes and parodied the ‘local airport’ – showing all planes cancelled due to Volcanic ash, and the planes being followed by a couple of stewardesses and a gaggle of English Tourists (Loud shirt, sandals with socks, bright red sunburn and drunk)

A notable theme of many of the floats was the complete lack of ‘politically correct awareness’ (if there is such an expression) : Yet another float followed the World Cup theme, complete with a drag queen version of Shakira, complete with her own ‘Manolo el del bombo’, another octopus, and two South African dancers – blacked-up in an Al Jolson stylee.

Many of the Tractor drivers and those in charge of the horses were drinking quite a lot too, openly infront of the Guardia onlookers (who didn’t seem too bothered by the float satirically showing them dressed in French lingerie), however I did get slightly concerned when one of the drivers jumped off his tractor, flicked it onto ‘autopilot’ and asked an unsuspecting spectator if he would make sure that it remained on course if he just nipped onto the back of the trailer to fetch another beer!

The parade itself seemed to last for ages and there must have been at least 20 floats / peices, punctuated at different parts with various bands following them and chucking out sweets (kindly donated by the local banks) into the faces of unsuspecting toddlers (would this be allowed in the UK ?)

Politically Incorrect? – Yes.

Total Absence of any semblance of organisation? – Yes.

Excuse for a drunken party? – Yes.

Complete disregard of Health & Safety? – Yes.

Enjoyable? – Absolutely!

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