Easter Procession in Santa Clara del Cobre

Santa Clara is about an hour’s drive south of Morelia, just south of Patzcuaro. We had intended to spend Easter Sunday here in the city, but after attending Mass at the cathedral, we felt small town life calling us (as usual). We wanted to see copper making, since I grew up with it in Arizona, so off we went.

What a charming small town! I absolutely fell in love with the young boys, ages 3-8 or so, who were dressed as typical Michoacán viejitos for the Easter procession. More on them later.

One of the two main churches in town is home to Jesus of the Resurrection, so Easter Sunday is, luckily for us, a big feast day. Later in this post you’ll see video footage of the very community-engaged, charming Easter procession.

We noticed a sign outside the church here that we found so interesting we just had to take a photo of it, left.

Also, I made a new girlfriend, who was more than happy to pose for a photo for me.

When we arrived in town, about 11:00 am, people were just putting the finishing touches on some decorations. Those included assembling beautiful red-and-white-arches in the center of the street, in front of each of the barrios of Santa Clara del Cobre.

When we asked what they were preparing for, we were told there was going to be a procession. Where? When? “Right here. Ahorita.” Well, we’ve lived here long enough to know that ahorita doesn’t mean “right now” in any gringo sense of that word. So, we knew we had time to check out the town.

The decorations also included crepe paper flowers and streamers in front of nearly every house in town. It was truly a community event, and involved all ages.

We saw a long line in front of the newer church, the one that’s in the plaza. We figured it had something to do with Easter.

Approaching, we saw the priest signing a booklet for the children in line. Well, that looked all too familiar! In asking, a mother told us that the children who want to receive First Communion this spring had to attend the 9 o’clock Mass on Easter, and they had to have the priest sign their booklets attesting to that fact. Gotta love legalism.

We figured the procession would start after the noon Mass, so we took a look through what appeared to be the old original church. It was gorgeous! Everything here in town was so well cared for.

There were quite a few braids of human hair pinned to the cloth behind the crucifix, along with quite a few small milagros.

Every building was occupied, every curb was maintained, there were sidewalks and people sweep them on a daily basis. It was terrific to see.

Beside the old church was what seemed to be a community center. There were obvious party preparations going on, and during the mid-day people kept streaming in with food, food and more food. And music too, of course.

Still no sign of a procession to begin ahorita, we walked through the copper fair that was going on in the main plaza. There we met Pito Pérez, reincarnated, selling DVDs of movies about his life.

Coming back to the other side of the plaza, we saw that the crowd was gathering to view the procession, so we took our place on a curb.

Once the fireworks launchers were in place, we knew it was time. They used really handy iron stands to launch 6-14 bottle rockets in a row. I think Mazatlán needs these!

The video above is about three minutes of the procession. It lasted a good 90 minutes or more. It involved so many people, as we’ve witnessed in so many other small Mexican towns during Semana Santa. It included a Santo statue from each of the barrios of the town, I believe, plus the town patron, the Jesus of the Resurrection. This is not a performance so much as a community-wide event, as are our beloved Carnavál parades in Mazatlán.

The most charming part of the parade, for me, were the children dressed up as typical Michoacán viejitos, or old people. Normally this is a folk dance, but this time they merely walked in the parade. By the end they were pretty hot and tired.

After the procession I saw a group of four boys sitting in the plaza. They were obviously the viejito boys, though they had removed their hats and masks, and several of them had even taken off their zarapes, because they were hot and tired. They looked so cute. I asked them if I could take their photo, so that of course ruined the spontaneity of the moment. But, marvelously, they called all their friends over, they all got completely re-costumed, and they gleefully posed for me to take their photo. I will post this blog to a few town sites, in hopes that the kids might see themselves. Thank you, niños!

Afterwards people seemed to go into the community center to eat, and to take home the leaves from the arches, and many of them also took home large sugar cane stalks. We hadn’t seen those till now, so I’m not exactly sure where they came from.

Thank you, Santa Clara del Cobre!!! We were very blessed to be able to share our Easter Sunday with you! We appreciate you including us in your festivities.

Palm Sunday Parade Guanajuato

This was a parade on the evening of Palm Sunday 2011 in Guanajuato. The last few weeks of Jesus’ life, minus the first Moses float, of course 🙂

Rigo Lewis, Maestro De Carnaval

We LOVE Carnavál de Mazatlán, as you know. It is the third largest (and best 🙂 ) in the world. We’ve done several blog posts about the two annual parades (see 2010 parade photos here), as well as the
crownings (this one links to crowning my favorite Banda, El Recodo, King of Joy) and wonderful pre-events.

Carnavál in Mazatlán has some of, if not the best, carrozas alegóricas or floats of any Mardi Gras parade anywhere. And, the man behind most of that has been Maestro Rigoberto Lewis.

This afternoon luck was with us. It’s hot out. We dropped Danny off at Scouts, and we had eaten lunch downtown. We were going to stop by Mati for a paleta. It’s a wonderful, historic ice cream maker here in town.

Well, as we got out of the car to walk over to buy our paletas, we noticed a big door open to our right, and, lo and behold, carrozas alegóricas!!! We were so excited! El tallér! But, even better than that, there were a few people putting the finishing touches on the frontispiece of a statue, and who was supervising but… Maestro Lewis!

Maestro Rigo has made the carrozas for over fifty years (he started as a sophomore in high school), as well as designed most of the royal costumes (starting in 1961). He was born during a Carnavál, on February 14. He is a Valentine’s baby, but the fact that he was born during Carnaval has been a much more defining fact of his life.
He very graciously invited us in. We watched them work for a bit, and then he proceeded to tell us a few stories about the plans for next week’s defile carnavalero for Independence Day, as well as his current thoughts about life. He showed us the floats he created originally for Culiacán, but which those of us here in Mazatlán will be fortunate enough to enjoy instead. He allowed Greg to take the picture of him with me that you can see above.

We talked for a while, we watched, we looked around, we went across the street to buy ice cream and bring some back for Maestro Rigo and his workers, and we delighted in our good fortune.

This is a photo of El Maestro that I took as he walked in the Carnavál parade No 1 earlier this year, 2010. I have some great footage of him straightening the queen’s dress as she mounts the float, too. The second parade was marred, unfortunately, by mass panic. The first parade was perfect.

This photo of Maestro Rigoberto is taken from the Carnavál de Mazatlán site.

Some other articles on Rigoberto Lewis and his history of float-making:

El Sol de Mazatlán, 2008
Pacific Pearl, in English, 2001
El Noroeste, 2009

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.

Pre-Carnaval

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.