30th Annual Chicken Breakfast!

Cuando es más grande el corazón que la necesidad

Each year for over thirty years Yolanda Medina, her family and friends have fed the neediest of Mazatlán’s families at Christmas time in what is called “The Chicken Breakfast/Desayuno de los Pollos.” A multicultural group of Mazatlecos, Canadians and Americans have fed 2500 families/year, including a whole chicken, pantry items that last about a week, gently used clothing, bedding, coats, shoes and new toys.

THIS SATURDAY December 7th is the annual fundraiser breakfast. Tickets are 250 pesos and include a ticket for the raffle. The breakfast will be held at the Cruise Ship Dock, API, in front of the OXXO on Av. Gabriel Leyva. Start time is 8:30 am and it usually continues till about 11 am. Please join us! For tickets contact me, Jeanette Leraand, or Jorge Medina (speaks English well) on his mobile, (669) 110-0744. You can purchase tickets at the door.

In addition to the breakfast and raffle there is a Christmas Bazaar, bake sale and silent auction. If you are unable to attend, please make a donation! 100% of the money goes DIRECTLY to the needy; we are all volunteers. If you have items to donate for our silent auction or bazaar, please contact me at 118-4114.

The gifting process is labor-intensive, but we want to reach Mazatlán’s neediest, and sometimes that’s not easy to do. We go out to the squatter colonies and visit each and every shack, to verify that the families are living there (some just put a house up in hopes of eventually getting free land) and to be sure we reach the elderly, handicapped and home-bound. Many of these families live in “homes” made of sticks or pallets covered with garbage bags or tarps, as they have no where else to go. Most do not have running water, electric or gas. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The whole chickens we hand out normally are not roasted for Christmas dinner, as we might imagine, as these people have no ovens. The happy recipients usually boil the chicken in a pot over an open fire, and occasionally rotisserie it over an open flame. We serve elderly people whose children have abandoned them, unwed mothers with babies who’ve been kicked out of their homes, people on crutches, in wheelchairs, the blind and deaf. It is heartbreaking to see how these people live, and it completely makes Christmas to be able to help out a bit.

Please join us, donate bazaar or silent auction items or monetary support (you can donate money here). You can download a gift certificate here.

Also you are MOST welcome to join in early on the morning of December 24th to experience a WONDERFUL Christmas Eve morning by helping us hand out the food and clothing. Prior to Christmas, you can donate gently used clothing, blankets, coats, shoes or new toys. Drop off is at Quince Letras, Jorge Medina’s wrought iron workshop on Francisco Villa just down from the corner of Tampico. Detailed information can be found here.

 

The Dead Will Show You Just How Alive the GZ Really Is!

EXCELLENT New Day of the Dead Event!b2b7db28-2f60-4e33-96cd-446bac619f77Mazatlán is internationally renowned for its Día de Muertos events, especially the callejoneada/alley parade in Centro Histórico (which will take place on Saturday November 2nd this year, Cultura confirms). Many tourists, however, come for a week or more, and locals and snowbirds would enjoy something beyond the main evening. How about fourteen days of cool, fun and traditionally respectful events in the Golden Zone?

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You will be able to take a tour of fourteen Day of the Dead altars in the Zona Dorada,  anytime between October 20th and November 3rd, receiving free gifts, cocktails, and entries to a raffle for terrific prizes that will take place on the afternoon of November 4th. You could alternatively go everyday, visiting the altars of places that have special events that day, and fully immerse yourself in the season. I’ll list the special offers below.

Some of these businesses have done altars for years, but this is the first time they’ve coordinated and expanded their efforts. The participating organizations are very clear that their goal is to honor tradition and gift a terrific event to their customers and the community. The hope is that this event can grow and contribute to putting Mazatlán further in the forefront of Day of the Dead festivities in México.

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So, put your shoes on and get your cameras ready. You’ll learn a lot about making an altar and about the historic personalities of Mazatlán, and it sounds like you can easily get drunk on complimentary beverages and return home with a bag full of swag. Below is a list of the participating locations. Please note that events will take place in the Golden Zone locations of each business:

  1. Señor Frogs Clothing: Altar dedicated to Pedro Infante and María Felix. Gift: Lollipops personalized with the brand. Special offer throughout the duration of the event, while supplies last: With the purchase of 500 pesos of merchandise men may purchase a t-shirt with Pedro Infante as a calavera while women may purchase a t-shirt with María Félix, made special for the occasion for just $149 pesos. Special day Nov. 2.
  2. Michael’s Gallery Giftshop (both Golden Zone locations are participating): Altar dedicated to The Family, all of our beloved family members that we’ve lost. Gift on Oct. 28: A pottery skull to use on your own altar.
  3. F.I.S.H Restaurant: Altar dedicated to Fishermen, who bring us the abundance of the sea. Special offer throughout the duration of the event: 10% off all purchases when you present your altar map. Special day Oct. 27.
  4. Onilikan Artesanal Liqueurs: Altar dedicated to Selena Quintanilla, who, like them, represents two worlds. Gift on Oct. 25: Mulatto cocktail with a base of coffee liqueur. Special offer for the duration of the event: Three for two on everything in the store when you present your altar map.
  5. Marimba Handicrafts and Jewelry: Altar dedicated to Frida Kahlo. Gift on Oct. 29: Complimentary appetizers and margaritas. Special offer for the duration of the event: 15% off everything in the store when you present your altar map.
  6. Mazatlán 4 Sale Real Estate and Art Gallery: Altar dedicated to Francisco Toledo, the Oaxaqueño artist. Gift on Oct. 31: Free margaritas.
  7. Royal Villas Hotel: Altar dedicated to Alfonso Pelayo y Clara Osuna, the hotel’s founders. Gift on Nov. 1: Complimentary hot chocolate and pan de muertos. Special offer for the duration of the event: 15% discount in the restaurant with your altar map.
  8. Rico’s Café: Altar dedicated to The Spirit of Coffee. Coffee has a unique position between life and death, present at births as well as funerals. Gift on Oct. 24: Complimentary pan de muerto filled with chocolate, with hot chocolate or Mexican coffee.
  9. Venados Store Athletic Wear: Altar dedicated to José Alfredo Jimenez, composer of the Corrido de Mazatlán. Gift on Nov. 2: Complimentary beer and tequila shot or candy for the kids.
  10. Inn at Mazatlán Hotel: Altar dedicated to Rigoberto Lewis, legendary Carnavál float designer. Gift on Oct. 30: Complimentary typical candies, hot chocolate and bread, plus a special performance in the lobby at noon.
  11. Panamá Bakery and Restaurant: Altar dedicated to Everyone who has made us who we are. Gift on Nov. 1: Complimentary pan de muerto and other surprises from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.
  12. El Cid Hotels: Altar dedicated to biologist Julio Berdegue, founder of the hotel chain and important player in the development of Sinaloa. Gift on Saturday Oct. 26 from 6:00 pm: Complimentary drinks and canapés in the commercial center of El Moro Tower plus special prizes. Special offer for the duration of the event:  Discounts of 20% in La Concha restaurant when you present your altar map.
  13. Casa Maya: Altar dedicated to Coco, from the Disney film. Gift on Nov. 2: Complimentary shot of mezcal and traditional candy.

When you visit the altars DO NOT FORGET to get a ticket to deposit in the box at each location! There will be terrific prizes from each participating business given out via a drawing to be held on the afternoon of November 4th at 1:00 pm and announced via Facebook Live. The more altars you visit, the more chances you’ll have to win.

I am so proud of this initiative! It unites key players in the Golden Zone, including Rico’s Café, El Cid, Señor Frog’s, Panama, Michael’s Gallery and the Venados Store in an effort to preserve and extend a Mexican tradition valued since prehispanic times. As a member of the foreign press, it also does us proud because it’s an effort led by and including foreign resident business owners (Rico’s, F.I.S.H., Maz4Sale, Onilikan) as well as locals in a quintessentially mazatleco multicultural effort. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

7 Tips So You Don’t Miss the Best of Carnaval de Mazatlán!

There are a couple of things to know about Carnaval de Mazatlán. First, Mazatlecos are born with Carnaval in their veins; it is part of their DNA. They can critique a Carnaval float like no one else, knowing exactly what makes it work or what it’s lacking. That is part of the reason why it is said to be the third largest in the world. Work and school pretty much come to a halt during the days of Carnaval; it is time to party before the reflective season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

Second, Carnaval here is a festival of the pueblo, the people. It is an intergenerational family affair. Despite what some outsiders might perceive, it is most definitely NOT a beauty contest, or at least not primarily. And it is not the festival of drunkenness and debauchery that you see elsewhere, though of course it there are people who make it that. The biggest pride for the people of Mazatlán this year is that the King of Carnaval is an ordinary guy from the barrio, a single father to two daughters, who  labors for a living and performs lots of community service work. They will go wild to see him dancing on top of his Carnaval float during the two parades this year. Carnaval includes more upscale activities like classical music concerts, awards for poetry, art and literature, but the beating heart of the week-long event is the mass revelry, where you’ll celebrate with grandparents and children, as well as teenagers and adults of all ages.

Carnaval Calendar
The official calendar of Carnaval events is above, though it is missing a couple of key events such as the Gastronomic Fair (below) and the Lunes de Mascaritas or “Masquerade Monday,” new this year in an attempt to revive an storied city Carnaval tradition. Below are my tips for making the most of your Carnaval experience, in chronological order for the week.

  1. Banda El Recodo’s 80th Anniversary Concert: This year we get an extra day of Carnaval, thanks to it being the 80th anniversary of our beloved, nine-time-Grammy-winning Banda El Recodo. People around the world are so very jealous of those of us who live here in Mazatlán, home to the first Mexican band to perform in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, North and South America. They even have two stars on the walk of fame in Las Vegas. Greg went by their offices today to pick up our credentials for the concert (Wed. Feb. 27th in the stadium, doors open at 5 pm), and he was AMAZED how many people came by and waited at the door, explaining over the intercom that they had taught Poncho or known Joel when they were kids, asking for concert tickets or to talk with a star. Talk about super fans! It is wonderful to have home town heroes with international fame! The band gave out thousands and thousands of free tickets to this huge concert, which will include loads of other stars paying tribute to the Madre de las Bandas. If you have not joined in the excitement of this major event, you are missing out! You’ll see people dressed to the nines and others in jeans, boots, cowboy hats and rhinestones. Heck, just people watching will be a treat!80-Aniversario-de-la-Banda-El-Recodo-2
  2. The Coronation of the King (Thu. Feb. 28th in Sister Cities Park, starting at 8 pm) is always an exceptional concert and it’s always free! This year it will be headlined by another famous local son, Chuy Lizárraga! The coronation of the king has traditionally included much less pomp and circumstance than that of the queens, but it’s still a whole lot of fun—and much rowdier. You’ll most probably see some cool dancing, video effects and staging, as well as a killer fireworks show during the coronation, followed by a stellar concert. I highly recommend attending. Take a portable seat if you need one, and perhaps a cooler of beer, though no doubt there will be vendors galore. This concert attracts a huge crowd. The coronation tends to start on time or perhaps up to an hour late (which here can still be considered “on time,” with the new city administration it’s hard to know what will be different), but the headliner probably won’t play until 10 or 11 pm. Be sure to take a hat and jacket, as the park is right along the malecon, which can get cool and breezy at night. Dress will be casual. Wear closed-toe shoes as there will be a crowd.48391285_2419783844760448_4227020501060419584_o.jpg
  3. See a coronation—of one of the queens! You absolutely must. It will include a world-class concert, but also colorful, spirited dancing by local costumed children and professionals, impressive staging and media effects, and fireworks. My recommendation is that you attend the Coronation of the Queen of the Floral Games (Fri. Mar. 1st in the stadium at 8:30 pm) or Child Queen Coronation (Mon. Mar. 4th) are best, because it will leave your Saturday night free to catch the fireworks and burning of bad humor downtown. It is nearly impossible to see the Saturday coronation and get to Olas Altas in time to see the fireworks, due to the huge traffic jams during Carnaval (and the security line to get into the Carnaval zone). We have tried. The queen and the governor can do it, but they’ve got police escorts. The coronations require tickets, which are still available online at the Cultura Mazatlán site. Lots of people dress NICE for the coronations, and it’s fun to get into the spirit of the event. High heels tend to mean tough walking on the turf of the stadium, however. Be sure to take a jacket and hat, or even a blanket, as the stadium can get damp and cold depending on the day’s weather. You can take binoculars for a better view and, of course, your camera.P1250966©
  4. Saturday of Carnaval is my second-most-favorite night. I spent well over a decade in Japan, and consider myself a connoisseur of good fireworks. The traditional Combate Naval fireworks show (Sat. Mar. 2nd at 10:30 pm in the Olas Altas party zone) is super; I trust it will be this year. The event, however, is attended by 500,000 or more people in a cramped area of town, so be ready to be swept up in a human wave. Honestly, you can quite literally be swept off your feet and taken with the crowd, so be prepared. Besides the fireworks, I encourage you to show up early and walk along to watch the Burning of Bad Humor (Sat. Mar. 2nd at 8 pm at the Deer Statue in Olas Altas). This little-talked about event is a WHOLE lot of fun. It’s a traditional Mexican custom to burn a piñata loaded with a whole lot of firecrackers, an effigy, of some well-hated person from the previous year. If you’ve never seen it, you owe it to yourself to go. Just follow the fireworks (single-shot fireworks that denote a parade route) or wait at the Deer Statue. Rumor has it that this year they’ll burn EPN—Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s last president. There won’t be an official announcement till the day before, and the burning is preceded with a poem that roasts the “effigy of honor.”Combate Naval Rosa
    Best bets to see the fireworks are:
    • At this point in time, if you don’t have a reservation (see below), I’d plan to arrive plenty early in Olas Altas on Saturday (maybe 5 or 6 pm) and find a seat on the malecón wall. Plan to hold on to it for dear life. You’ll have to take turns going to the bathroom or picking up refreshments in order to maintain your prime seating. We have done this several years and absolutely loved it. It is an “of the people” experience. There’s great conversation and revelry, and the views are the best ever. Remember there are often fireworks launched from the beach in front of you, and from at least two different barge locations in the bay.
    • My second recommendation to you, if you don’t have a reservation, is to reserve seats on a boat. There are loads of party boats that will head out into the bay to watch the fireworks. The best ones include live music, most will have bars, some have food as well.
    • It’s late, but you may get lucky enough even at this late date to get a reservation at an Olas Altas restaurant or bar. You will have to pay in advance to secure your reservation. Puerto Viejo often opens their roof, as does the Freeman, and all the places along the malecón will be full of people.
    • Get invited to a private party. We have had the pleasure of witnessing Combate Naval from some absolutely breathtaking locations thanks to the generosity of friends. I always say, I’m happy to share my photos of the fireworks in exchange for a great viewing location 😉
    • Make a reservation at one of the hotels in the area—the Belmar, La Siesta, Casa Lucila or Casa de Leyendas. For this year you are probably waaaay too late, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to get ready for Carnaval 2020! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to party on the balcony of your own hotel room?
  5. The Parade!!! The ABSOLUTE FAVORITE event of Carnaval for most mazatlecos, including us. The main parade is the first one (Sun. Mar. 3rd leaving the Fishermen’s Monument and heading north at 5:30 pm). The parade continues to Valentino’s, where it will turn on Rafael Buelna so that the royalty and others can get off the floats. The parade is comprised of quite a few different sections (current royalty, past year’s royalty, and 25 and 50 year commemorations), each of which includes dance troupes and live music, plus incredible floats. People will put chairs out on the malecón 2-4 days ahead of time, staying 24 hours a day to guard their space. Others rent a seat from one of the hotels along the route, or join friends on the pool deck or a balcony of one of the condo buildings along the route. The entire parade route becomes one huge party for several days ahead of the big day. Expect the parade to last until about 10:00 pm. You will need to plan to secure a good viewing spot, though you can crowd in and see it from the back of the pack, too. Bring a chair if you want to sit and don’t have one reserved. The parade is not as horribly crowded as the Combate Naval fireworks. There is a pre-parade that departs about 4:30, when commercial floats toss out lots of freebies to the crowd._DSC1596©
    If you want to see the floats in a more relaxed setting, go to the malecón north of the Sea Lion Statue on Tue. Mar. 5th anytime after about 1:00 pm and before 4:30 pm when the second parade starts. This is prime photo-op time as the dancers are getting ready, putting on their makeup, loosening their muscles, and the royalty will be boarding the floats. The second parade heads south from there to Olas Altas, so you have much more space along which to set your chair and enjoy the parade. This parade is not nearly as crowded as Sunday’s._DSC3428©
  6. The Muestra Gastronómica or Gastronomic Festival (Sun-Tue. Mar. 3rd through 5th from 1-7 pm in Sister Cities Park) is historically a free event, but this year will be a benefit for DIF (municipal family services), Sister Cities Park and The Lighthouse Nature Park. What I love about it is they’re converting it from an upscale affair in the Machado into a family-friendly event in the park! Over 20 local restaurants will participate, there will also be live music, games, face painting and bouncy houses for the kids. You may want to bring your costumes and Carnaval masks and attend the gastronomic fair on Monday, because afterwards the city is rescuing the beloved mazatlecan tradition of Lunes de Mascaritas or “Masquerade Monday,” where young people asked one another, Mascarita, me conoces? or “Masked one, do you know me?” Prizes include a motorcycle and other major goodies, so be sure to give it a shot!52151453_10214065139442926_5662494469413404672_n.jpg, free.
  7. Finally and most obviously, do not miss a night in the Party Zone in Olas Altas! Entrance to the  zone this year is supposed to be free. Normally it was a small fee, to make it accessible to everyone and yet not an even crazier free-for-all. There you will find loads of food and drink, stages with many different kinds of live music, from dusk till the wee hours of the morning. You can’t say you attended Carnaval de Mazatlán if you don’t dance in the street in the party zone at least once! It will be open Feb. 28th to Mar. 5th. I recommend you dress casual, avoid jewelry and don’t take a lot of cash; it’s safe and a great time, but there are pickpockets who come special from out of town, and it’s quite the crowd so easier pickings.P1100271©

Dúo de Amor

The Velada de las Artes last night, Saturday 19 February at 8 pm in the Angela Peralta Theater—entitled Dúo de Amor—was spectacular and left me with my mouth hanging open quite a few times.

The crowd was greeted in the lobby by the Guillermo Sarabia Chorus, waiters passing red wine, and a beautifully draped and chandeliered ceiling. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The chandeliers continued through to the theater and on the stage, making for a stunning effect. The first subject of the evening was to award the Mazatlán Literature Prize, one of the most prestigious awards given out during Carnaval. Prior recipients have included Ángeles Mastretta, Fernando del Paso, Octavio Paz, Francisco Hernández, my favorite, Elena Poniatowska and Carlos Fuentes.

2019’s awardee is Guillermo Fadanelli, who was recognized for his body of work—Lodo, Educar a los topos, Mis mujeres muertas, El hombre nacido en Danzig, and Hotel DF are a few of his best-known novels, and he also writes essays. Fadanelli’s works have been translated into six languages. José Ignacio Lizárraga, Ernesto Velázquez Briseño and Alejandro Páez Varela comprised this year’s panel of judges.

Fadanelli received the award from Óscar Blancarte Pimentel, Director of our Instituto de Cultura, Turismo y Arte de Mazatlán, as well as from our two 2019 queens, Karla II and Yamilé I.

For such a prestigious event in such a gorgeously historic venue, Fadanelli could have at least tucked in his shirt, or even pressed it. But Ithe crowd did enjoy his bright red shoes and Ivery much appreciated his remarks. “Culture is life, it’s an extensión of our thoughts, it’s the desire to be someone… language amplifies our imagination… words, language and writing help us better the world,” he remarked in accepting the prize.


After the award presentation we had a short break, so the sofas and podium on stage could be changed out to make room for the Camerata Mazatlán and part of the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa de las Artes. The musicians did an incredible job. It was a night of love and passion, with arias from Die Fiedermaus, Turandot, l’amico FritzAndrea Chénier, A Masked BallAida, Nabucco, and Madame Butterfly.


The highlight of the evening were the two international opera star headliners: soprano Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs, and tenor Dario Di Vietri. Kudos to the stage light professionals, as they did an excellent job. There were no costuming, props or backgrounds, but via the music, the incredible voices,  acting and lighting, the audience was transported to each opera and filled with the passion intended in each aria. The audience demanded, and got, two encores.

We all know how blessed we are to live in Mazatlán, where we can enjoy world-class cultural events in intimate spaces at affordable prices. Last night, however, was over the top. Where in the world can you enjoy a renowned symphony conductor encouraging the audience to sing along with the stars on stage? Or witness the two stars vamping an incredibly campy, passionate kiss, only to break out into heartfelt laughter that delights the soul? Or witness the conductor scold a queen for over-use of her cell phone, or joke about a percussionist’s mishap on stage? The only reminder of our small-town-ness were the frayed carpets and the dirty podium on stage. In the presence of such incredible artists, surely we can do better than that.


The theater was nearly full. Carnaval royalty from this year and last year atended, as did Papik Ramírez Bernal, Director General of the Instituto Sinaloense de Cultura, and Victoria Aída Tatto Prieto, State Director of Cultura.

Carnaval has officially begun, people. We have our royalty, we have our award winners. Now get ready to party!

Give Me a Light?

Carnaval de Mazatlán 2019 is showing us some incredible artistry, and it’s allowed Greg and me to meet some outstanding artists! This week it was Jorge Osuna, creator of our magically illuminated floats these past nine years. Like me, you may be amazed how they seem to get better and better. Well, this very affable gentleman is an electrical engineer who also happens to have enjoyed drawing and music since he was a kid. He is constantly experimenting and playing around, trying things that haven’t been done before, so that he and his team can bring the most “wow” to Carnaval.

This year you’ll see the first monochromatic illuminated float (orange fabric) as well as the first black float (“people complain that black is not a happy Carnaval color, but at night, with the red lights, the black blends into the environment and it is just incredible!” Jorge tells us. Please remember that Cultura Mazatlán has asked the press not to publish photos of the floats prior to the parades. Thus, what you are seeing below are elements only. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Jorge did not study set-making, architecture or construction. He runs a lighting business, here and in Culiacán. He specializes in customizing lighting to the venue—the theme of the restaurant, business or event. Raúl Rico used to ask him to do lighting for special projects, staging, etc., and then in late 2009 he asked Jorge to make five floats for a night parade down the malecón. The parade was to accompany the second fireworks show that we did for a few years on Carnaval Monday and was designed to provide a family-friendly Carnaval option outside of drinking and revelry.

I remember that night well. None of us knew what to expect. All the lights on the malecón went dark. After the Child Queen’s coronation behind our house, we could see the five illuminated floats from a great distance, coming our way along the Avenida del Mar. Excitement built and people were thrilled. By the second year the event drew such a huge crowd that they were sadly forced to cancel it. Poof, just like that. Just like AeroFest, another fantastic event that is no longer. The purveyors in the “party zone” in Olas Altas had complained that the light-up parade and fireworks were robbing their crowd. The effort was killed by its own success.

This year the 20 or so workers in the Osuna Workshop will make their first-ever royal float, for the Child Queen, plus nine more—most of the children’s and Floral Games’ sections. In addition to their ten floats, the Osuna team will illuminate the Lewis Family floats. “Carnaval is the pride of Mazatlán. It’s for the pueblo, it’s of the pueblo. All of us who participate in putting it on are a team. We help and support each other. We each have unique contributions,” Jorge tells me.

This taller began working the second week of November. Most everything now is finished, electrified, and they are now “closing it all up,” which means wrapping it in fabric so that it glows and shines during the parades. I joked with Jorge that, as an electrical engineer, working on the Carnaval floats must have taught him a lot about fabric. He belly laughed and told me this story.

Jorge buys fabrics here in Mazatlán, but he also has to travel to Mexico City and Guadalajara to find the best fit for his purposes. People in the fabric shops don’t “get it;” they are used to selling fabric for dresses, curtains, blouses, not Carnaval floats. He remembers the first year, when he’d show up in a fabric shop. He had a light box with him, so he could stretch the fabric over it and see how it looked with the light behind it. It can’t be too translucent, or the bulbs show through; ideal is when it glows. The women in the fabric shop would chuckle and point, gossiping about the “crazy man over there.” Now, however, when he shows up at his favorite fabric shop in Guadalajara, they put Jorge at his own table, pull him up a chair and serve him refreshments. Now they understand the importance of his light box. They are proud to be a small part of Carnaval de Mazatlán, and they know he’ll leave their shop with loads and loads of fabric, helping them fulfill any sales quotas they might have. What a difference a few years makes!

“Mazatlecos have Carnaval in our genetic code. It is imprinted on us our entire lives. People from outside don’t get it,” Jorge told us. People from Guatemala, Veracruz, Mexico City, Chihuahua, Ensenada and Cozumel have asked IngenieroOsuna to make floats for their parades. “No,” he tells them, he is an electrical engineer, he has an empresato run. He does Carnaval de Mazatlán out of love for his city and the privilege to be part of his world-class hometown tradition.

Everything is artisanally done in this workshop. My book club buddy Henry Albuernes is a sculptor who forges the steel frames onto which the lights are fastened before their final draping in fabric. We witnessed a couple of talented women stretching fabric over these mountings and sewing them in place, and there were plenty of electricians working with fabric all over this workshop.

Yes, the electrical connections! You cannot believe how complicated this all is! A normal home, according to Jorge, uses about 4 kilowatts of electricity. Some of his floats use up to 30! He has actually had to install air conditioners inside floats to keep the lights from overheating!

We asked the Ingeniero what becomes of his floats after Carnaval. They are made of steel and will last a long time if stored safely. “I honestly don’t know,” he replies. “I would really like to see them be put to a good use. Given to a school or an orphanage or old folks’ home. The frames could be used to form cement for a permanent statue. I would love to see them come out again on Children’s Day, for a night time parade to delight the kids here in town.”

What are his hopes for Carnaval going forward? Like most of us in Mazatlán, he is also very much hoping that the rumored Carnaval museum becomes a reality. He also would very much like to see the parade route extended. He recommends starting at our new Sister Cities Park, which would add one kilometer to its distance, and also closing the beginning of Rafael Buelna, so that the floats can safely get to the Gran Plaza and the royalty and dancers can de-board securely and peacefully.

Interviewing the three Carnaval float talleres this year was a whole lot of fun. The first two articles can be found here, with Ocean Rodriguez, and here, with the Lewis Family. I hope we’ve helped you get excited about the parades. They are going to ROCK! We’ll see you there!