Parades allow people to publicly express themselves in large gatherings, marches, walks or formal processions. Every Independence Day in the USA there are parades of military might, heritage floats and demonstrations of national pride. Across this great nation, people gather from all walks of life to express their love of country. The process is supported by citizens, immigrants and visitors alike. Standing shoulder to shoulder, people will witness all the displays, listen to the speeches whether in agreement or not, applaud or demonstrate anti-behavior towards all that may go on. The visiting tourist may not have a clue about all that they see once they encounter a procession but are often drawn to the sidelines to watch in amazement. It has been my experience in different countries to follow processions, if only to be nosy and to see what was going on. I could easily tell from all that I saw what type of parade it was, and whether I should get closer or watch from a safe distance.
Besides witnessing the pomp and pageantry of parades stateside on special holidays, if possible, I like to view parades while on vacation. I was drawn to large crowds of people in Barbados, Ecuador, Greece, Hawaii, Peru and Philippines, respectively, some marching in protest and others celebrating a national holiday or cultural heritage. On most occasions, it was not a part of my travel itinerary, but a pleasant diversion and an opportunity to mingle with local residents. So, I never miss standing on the sidelines to capture the event even though I may not understand all that may take place or the reasons behind the cavalcades. Some parades can present dangerous situations for outsiders. Tensions may rise and if caught in the heart of demonstrating protesters, the tourist may find themselves outside of their element. It is always good to stand away from large crowds just in case you may need a quick getaway. Find or look for a quick route to escape if things turn ugly.
In Athens, Greece and Lima, Peru respectively, marchers were protesting against government policy. Police with riot gear were out in full force to keep the peace. Placard bearing marchers and the masses were shouting slogans as they filed pass government buildings. I moved along with the train of people for several blocks just to watch the developments as they unfolded. In both cases, the protests were peacefully carried out although the gravity of the situation was not underestimated by the police but keenly observed. It was obvious they were ready, and capable of handling any imminent danger.
In Quito, Ecuador and Oahu, Hawaii, the respective processions demonstrated their cultural heritage. Ethnic groups, dressed in fancy colorful duds paraded down the streets dancing to drumbeats, clapping and stomping. Floats carrying musical bands, costumed characters, and people waving to the crowds were fun to watch. Both parades were more festive and celebratory. It was easy to blend in, enjoy the fun, and to mingle with the sea of people that lined the streets as the participants moved slowly along. The gaiety from the revelers was contagious, did not present a stressful environment but a relaxing atmosphere. Still, as a visitor, I was careful, observant and had an exit strategy should a disruptive incident like a fight arise.
In Bridgetown, Barbados and Sagada, Philippines, correspondingly, their parade emphasis was on a national anniversary, much like Independence Day here. In Barbados, the parade is formal and excitedly anticipated by citizens. It is well planned, and the main drills are performed at a cricket oval or a horse racetrack (depending on the weather) where residents can go to view in comfort. Different arms of the public and civil service march pass to the beat of the national police band in salute of the various dignitaries, after which a street parade follows. Residents follow the procession for miles along the parade route. Separately, the day I arrived in Sagada; the marchers were made up of some adults but mostly children. They were dressed in uniform and marched to the music of the school band. The expressions on everyone’s face was one of pride as they twirled batons and pompoms. They were celebrating an anniversary and had walked to the town square where they were on display. Their demonstration was formal and clearly a moment of local pride. Attendees, most likely proud parents, lined the streets, cheered for the children as they went by.
Community Peeps, everybody loves a parade if only to watch others stand for their cause, celebrate heritage or represent their country’s national honor. What has been your experience? If you have encountered a good or bad incident while attending a parade, at home or abroad, please share it with me here. Write it in the comment box below.
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