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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Parque De La Alemán — The bustling heart of one of Mérida’s original neighborhoods

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Veronica Garibayhttp://yucatanmagazine.com
Verónica Garibay Saldaña is a Mexican columnist, communications major, and poetry enthusiast. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

Located in the heart of Colonia Miguel Alemán, in front of the church El Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, sits the famous Parque de la Alemán.

Its large size and wide selection of attractions make it a popular space with lots of family activity, which is also commonly visited by youngsters and adults alike. 

View from the park from the walkway, crossing the green areas. Photo: Verónica Garibay

The park, which measures about a full city block, features a roller skating rink, a children’s playground, a large esplanade with a musical fountain, green areas, and a stage where artistic and cultural events are frequently held.

Beloved by local residents, it is the heart of the neighborhood.

The park during sunset, in the middle of a Zumba class. Photo: Verónica Garibay

According to the history of areas and subdivisions in Mérida, the Miguel Aleman neighborhood marked the origin of the construction industry in the state, by building 1000 houses of similar design in the surrounding areas. 

It was the first Mérida neighborhood to bear the name of a former president: Miguel Alemán Valdez.

Monument for Juan Crisóstomo Cano y Cano. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Between 1947 and 1948, the Miguel Alemán neighborhood was built on the lands of the Petcanché hacienda, annexed to the Chichí Suarez Molina hacienda. 

The homes were originally intended for the railroad workers, who were not fond of the idea, so the families of the personnel of the nearby thermoelectric plant Nachi Cocom occupied the site.

Fountains of La Alemán, in one end of the park. Benches and tables surround the area under the shade of large trees. Photo: Verónica Garibay

With 13 hectares, it was assigned urban services with the purpose of being a self-sufficient area at a basic level. A windmill was installed to supply well water for every two houses, and a school and a market were created. 

Thanks to a land donation, around the 1960s — during the governorship of Agustín Franco Aguilar —construction for the park began.

A short corridor of “puestos” joins the two main areas of the park: the large esplanade and the playground areas. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Subsequently, the Mérida City Hall invested in the cleaning and clearing of the land, the planting of trees, the irrigation system, the construction of the sidewalk, the walkway, the fountain, and the sculpture of Juan Crisóstomo Cano y Cano.

Originally the park was a green area with trees until it was delimited as a block to the north, along Calle 24 and 26, between 21st and 23rd A. 

People of all ages use every corner of the park, including the skatering. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Today, the park is abuzz at any time of day. In the large esplanade, zumba classes are almost constantly held, children are roller skating or driving electric cars and pet-owners are moving around the walkway.

Past the fountain and monuments, the large gardens are intertwined with cobbled sections where “puestos” of marquesitas, esquites, and ice cream are always standing. The fair rides are one of the most popular attractions at the park, especially among children. 

This mechanical game is one of the oldest sights of the park. I myself remember riding it as a little kid. Photo: Verónica Garibay

In between the fair and the esplanade sit large areas of grass, where cement animals create a concrete landscape for children. In the opposite end of the park sits the playground, and the skating rink.

Chimpanzees, giraffes, elephants and lions are some of the species over the grassy Alemán jungle. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Especially over the weekends, the park is filled with activities and events.

Recently, a young collective of singers started organizing outdoor performances every other Sunday. Stand-up collectives are also considering the park as a possible venue, and painters and photographers are usually walking around the park before the sunset.

A dimly lit marquesita stand, just in front of the children’s playground. Photo: Verónica Garibay

The park is a reflection of its neighborhood. A slow-living space uniquely Meridano, where every member of the family is welcome.

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