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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Giant alebrijes form a parade down Mérida’s Centro

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
A possum like Alebrije makes its way down Calle 60 in Mérida. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Although Saturday’s Alebrijes Parade was the first of its kind in the city, it somehow felt like it belonged.

The procession-like parade kicked off at 5 p.m. from Mérida’s zocalo making its way down Calle 60 and Paseo de Montejo and ultimately ending at the Monumento a la Patria. 

In all, the parade was made up of 16 monumental alebrijes of fantastical creatures, many of which were inspired by Yucatán’s local fauna. 

Everywhere you went you could not but overhear the conversations of spectators, all making the same observation: that it was so great to see so much color and life on Mérida’s streets again. 

Several of the people participating in the parade took the opportunity to dress up as Catarinas, in honor of the Day of the Dead. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht 

The carnival-like atmosphere was accompanied by the heart-thumping beat of drums, or batucada, as these sort of percussion ensembles are known locally. 

Alebrijes are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical mythical creatures. Though they are usually fairly small in size, giant alebrijes have begun to rise in popularity over the past couple of decades. The first major Alebrije Parade started off in Mexico City in 2007. Photo: Carlos Rosado vander Gracht

The parade was organized by Subhro AC, a local nonprofit organization promoting the arts, culture, and sustainable community development.

Despite the large number of local and international spectators who descended on Mérida’s Centro for the parade, at no time did the route feel crowded, because it was long and fairly stretched out. Almost everyone was wearing a facemask.  Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

“We have been offering alebrije workshops here in Mérida to lay the groundwork for this event. We are so excited that everything has come together so well,” said the event organizer, José Manuel Paredes. 

Funds for the workshops and the parade itself were granted to Subhro AC through a federal arts grant. The parade also received a police escort and logistical support from Mérida’s city hall in order to open and close streets as the parade went by. 

Several local businesses along Calle 60 and Paseo de Montejo were fully decked out for Hanal Pixan, which only added more color to the proceedings.

“The idea to do this parade has been long in the making. We started off offering our workshop to children, but soon their parents wanted in on the actions as well. This whole experience has just been so rewarding. We have no intention of stopping now,” said Paredes.

The giant Alebrijes that took part in the parade will be on display on Mérida’s Paseo de Montejo for the next couple of weeks. They will then be set up for another 15 days downtown in Mejorada Park.

José Manuel Paredes poses with one of his creations in front of Mérida’s Monumento a la Patria. Photo: Courtesy
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