Carnaval Parade 2009

We thoroughly and completely enjoyed our first Carnaval in Mazatlán. We live in the absolutely perfect spot. Good friends joined us for the parade, and we have posted some of the parade pictures to a
Kodak gallery slide show–take a look if you’d like.

Our 1st Carnaval Event

Greg and I were two of over 20,000 lucky people who showed up to the vacant lot in front of the aquarium to watch Verónica Castro crown my favorite banda, El Recodo, the “Kings of Joy” for Carnaval 2009. It was DEFINITELY a night to remember!

El Recodo played for over an hour, as did 11 other bands including Pedro Fernández, Banda El Limón, Huichol Musical, Banda Estrellas de Mazatlán, and the comedian Carlos Bardelli. The lighting on the stages was truly amazing, very high-tech and exciting, and the fireworks were remarkable.
The band is celebrating their 70th anniversary this year. The leader’s mother, Chuyita, who is the widow of the band’s founder (Cruz), and Cruz’s brother German, were both present at the ceremony.
One of the incredible things about this event is that it took place in what, up to that morning, had been a vacant dirt-covered lot. The city came in and plowed out a hill on the lot during the prior week, took out a small old amphitheatre, and the day before the event they installed a HUGE stage and one smaller one, along with 3-story high light mounts.
The lot was fenced off and you had to go through a long line of Federal Police, most people being frisked (we weren’t) before you could enter the party zone (huge lot, now transformed). The party zone was lined with snack booths of all sorts, from tacos to flan to carne asada. Strolling vendors sold hats, masks, noisemakers and toys. There were of course several Pacífico booths.
One of the interesting “side shows” was electric shock treatment. A man walks around with two hand-held diodes and a small generator. He gets a group of people together and asks you to hold hands. He gives a couple of people a diode, and he backs away. You get shocked, it hurts quite a bit, and the first person to let go pays 100 pesos for the privilege. Hmm… Greg lost 😦

Another interesting sideshow was the “eyelashes and beard” man, as you can see below.

Everyone talked to everyone as instant friends and shared the beer. It was an ideal start to our first Carnaval in Mazatlán.


This year is the 135th anniversary of the Carnaval here in Mazatlán. With our history as a port city (read pirates, drug runners and all sorts of shady operators), since the early 1800s my beloved home has been the site for a pre-Lenten Mardi Gras. They say we are the third largest in the world, after Rio and New Orleans. But who’s to say?

The main events run from the 19-24 of February this year, but for over a month now the fervor has been building. We’ve had parades, campaigns and parties for all the candidates for Queen and King. We’ve had the unveiling of the decorations, and the light display is fantastic. Strings of multi-colored lights are hung along the malecón from the Pedro Enfante statue to the Golden Zone (5 miles maybe?). It is a sight to behold! They include 90 different designs of very large, lighted masks on either end of each block. The lights are strung all through the winding streets of the Centro Histórico, too, and there are ticket booths, temporary restrooms, chain link fencing, and loads of background scenery everywhere.

A few nights ago we had the final vote counting to choose the Queens (Queen of the Carnaval, Queen of the Juegos Florales, and La Reina Infantil) and King of the Alegría (my favorite local Banda El Recodo–see photo below of me honoring them with my presence 🙂  ). They gave Greg a CD of their current hit, “Te Presumo.

Rigoberto Lewis has made the carrozas, those incredibly gorgeous, ornate, over-the-top Carnaval floats, since 1960. He seems to live the whole year for Carnaval, eating, sleeping, dreaming and breathing the floats.

So what actually happens during Carnaval? Well, this will be our first, so I look forward to letting you know. Some of what I know will happen is this:
  • The Mazatlán Prize for Literature is announced.
  • The Antonio Lopez Saenz Prize for Painting is announced.
  • The reenactment of Angela Peralta’s arrival to Mazatlán in 1883.
  • The coronation of the King of Joy (my favorite banda).
  • The coronation of the Queens of the Flower Games. That evening includes the Clemencia Isaura Prize for Poetry.
  • Coronation of the Queen of Carnaval, in the baseball stadium right behind our house.
  • The Burning of Bad Humor. If you have some you want me to burn for you, get it to me before the 21st!
  • The Combate Naval, a huge fireworks battle in the bay.
  • The first Carnaval parade, which will go right past our house on Avenida del Mar.
  • Coronation of the Child Queen, and a big kid party to go with it. Mazatlán’s Carnaval is for the whole family. Schools city-wide even give kids two days off school to join in the celebrations.
  • International Queen of the Pacific contest and dance.
  • Festival of Lights and Fireworks, the second big fireworks display, again in front of our house.
  • The second Carnaval Parade, this one heading south instead of north.
  • And, for the duration of Carnaval, there is a HUGE street party with over a dozen stagesfor live bands, dancing, and countless shops.
This year’s theme is Fantasía Universal, so we are expecting to travel the world from our own local celebration. We can’t wait, and we hope to see you here for Carnaval soon! Don’t plan on sleeping though.