Everyone loves a parade

One thing which makes travel exciting for me is living like the locals do. You know, “When in Rome, do as the Romans!” Yesterday, while peeling carrots and turning them into carrot sticks, I suddenly remembered a local parade I experienced in Holtville, California, when they were celebrating Carrot Festival. Everything revolved around carrots. The people accompanying the parade floats went so far as to throw carrots at the crowd. Coming to think of it, that was exactly the reason why a week or so later we opted not to attend the neighboring town’s Tomato Festival!
Parades are wonderful! I come from a city with a famous annual parade, the Calgary Stampede parade. Hundreds of thousands of spectators line up hours before the official start, just to obtain a good vantage point from which to observe the floats and horses and countless marching bands.
The first parades that I participated in personally were religious ones for the feast of Corpus Christi in Germany. People built altars laden with flowers throughout town and created a long carpet of flower petals leading back to the sanctuary at the church. The local Brass Band accompanied our singing and kept us in step. All the children attending catholic schools participated with flags, banners and flowers, and adults marched alongside as well.
Imagine our surprise, when on a trip through New Mexico we happened to stop in Santa Fe on the precise day when they were doing their Corpus Christi procession. Needless to say, we went along. It was hot. People carried umbrellas as shields against the sun. We felt just like the locals, especially when we realized that they also had their individual groups who did their own thing, not necessarily as planned by the organizers. People will be people, no matter where you are.
Another surprise parade, two actually, came about because of Carnival. Having just missed the parade in New Orleans, we were more than pleasantly surprised to have one go along the sea wall in Galveston, Texas, right in front of our hotel room. Our balcony probably granted us the best parade view ever. Another carnival parade happened in Estepona, Spain. This one made us realize that even catholic regions don’t all follow the same rules. Germany, which also has super Karneval hot spots in the Rhine region, stops celebrating on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday puts an end to all the shenanigans. Not so in Spain, since the carnival procession in Estepona happened at least 2 weeks after Ash Wednesday.
There’s nothing like a parade, not just to observe people, but to help us realize that we all belong to one human family.

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