As promised to write about for the next post, Mikkel and I along with our friend Dave went to the “Desfile de Mil Las Polleras” (1000 Polleras Parade) in Las Tablas yesterday. The annual parade started many years ago with only about 100 participants, featuring the folkdress of Panamanians, and has now grown to about 5000. People from all over Panama come to participate or observe this parade which started at 4 PM and ends at about 9 PM or beyond. We arrived at about 3 PM, parking behind the market (Super Carne) and walking down about 7-8 blocks to stake out our spot to watch the parade. Since we didn’t bring any, Mikkel bought some cheap plastic chairs at the variety store next to us. I’m glad he did, it was a long parade to have to stand through the whole time. A few other friends met up with us later.
The parade celebrates the Panamanian folk dress. Some are very elaborate with beautiful colorful embroidery, headdresses, and gold jewelry costing anywhere from $1000 to $50,000. Some are not as elaborate with colorful print skirts and white laced blouses. The men wear traditional white Guayabera shirts and Panamanian straw hats.
Groups of women, men, and children representing their town or province walk and dance down the streets. Usually they are led by one person swinging a large flag and then the women and men dressed in their folk costumes follow, the women holding out their skirts and the men dance around them. They are followed by a small band of drummers, horn players, and singers, sometimes accompanied with loudspeakers and stereos to enhance the music, powered by generators pulled on wagons or set up on 4-wheel motorcycles or trucks. The parade seems to go on forever with many breaks in between. After the sun goes down, ox-drawn decorated carts move through the streets, eventually followed by elaborate floats from Panama City pulled by tractors. All this is then followed by a beautiful display of fireworks in the sky that would make Disneyland fireworks look very minimal.
While waiting for the parade to start and in between each group coming by, there are the many street vendors selling food, drinks, balloons, and toys walking down the street as well as booths set up at various spots along the parade route and in the town square. Most stores remain open until about 6 PM, selling their goods to those parade viewers walking by. Where we were was actually about 4 blocks from the end of the parade route. So as the participants arrived at the end, they would walk back to view the rest of the parade. Thus, the street got more crowded and crowded as the evening continued. But we still had a great spot to see most everything. After the last float, we walked back to our car, following the float and those in the parade. And where we parked allowed for an easy way out. All-in-all, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and probably will return next year.
I took over 100 pictures, but here are some highlights.
Waiting for the Parade to Start
Polleras & More Polleras
In the Evening Comes the Floats