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San Miguel Gets Crazy!

By Jesús Aguado

This June 17 will be a crazy Sunday. Literally. Every year in June, San Miguel de Allende hosts the Los Locos Parade, in which 15,000 people cover the streets of the city with color, music, and entertainment, dressed as superheroes, princesses, mythological creatures, fairies, and characters from fantasy and fictional movies. On June 17, more than 100,000 locals and tourists will gather along the streets with bags or upturned umbrellas to watch the parade and, more importantly, catch the candy that the parade participants will be tossing out to the crowds as they go by.

Parades Origins in City’s Farming Past

San Miguel was once a city surrounded by orchards, mainly in the area that is now Parque Juárez. All kinds of seasonal fruits were grown: apples, pears, plums, peaches, and more. Each year, during harvest time, the orchard owners let the hortelanos (the orchard’s fruit pickers) and their families into the orchards to eat as much as they wanted. Also, masses were held for the hortelanos. Wearing jumpers, long sleeve shirts, boots, and hats, the hortelanos would dance to honor St Paschal Baylon. Eventually, locals began to gather annually to watch the spectacle of the hortelanos dancing.

The crowds eventually became large enough that the workers no longer had enough space to do their dances, so the workers began wearing masks to scare away onlookers. They also carried raccoons, pelicans, skunks, armadillos, and other animals, and the audience began referring to the dancers as locos (crazy people). The locos now dance to honor both St Anthony (patron saint of the poor and sick) and St Paschal. Statues of both were once located at the San Antonio Church in colonia San Antonio, but now St Paschal’s statue is sheltered in the Church of San Juan de Dios.

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