“Desfile” means parade in Spanish, and there is no event too small to warrant it’s own desfile in Nicaragua. I’ve actually lost track of how many parades and processions I have seen since my arrival just three months ago. Sometimes only 30 people strong, playing musical instruments, wearing special costumes or uniforms, the community members walk down the street in honor of a special day or special person. It is not unusual for a particular school to shut down classes for the day and hold one of their own and for parents to walk alongside the children – taking photos or holding hands as they go through the neighborhoods.
Some parade days are much larger and intended for the whole city to enjoy – Hipica for instance, displays the best horses in the country or Purisima which is happening now and honors the immaculate conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Purisima processions begin the week leading up to December 8 in which each neighborhood takes to the streets for a procession with the statue of Mary. Each neighborhoods builds their own float, which Mary is carried on. Then on the 8th, the Mary statue is brought to the cathedral in the center of town for a final service. The street I live on, Calle Libertad, was designated as the last street for the celebration this week so it was very easy to just step outside of my door and watch the festivity.
Also, any visitor to Granada will quickly learn that even more popular than a parade, are the fireworks. Louder than they are bright, they are shot off day and night and can easily startle you until you get to used to hearing them. I still jump if I’m not expecting them!
One of my favorite parts of the desfiles are the food vendors that are present. The most common parade snacks are: plantain chips (pictured above), popcorn, cotton candy, raspados (shaved ice w/ flavored syrup, served in a cup), hot dogs, ice cream bars, and fruit (mostly oranges and mangos). At the larger celebrations they may also be grilling corn on the cob and tortillas, or frying chicken, sausage (yes, deep-fried sausage!) and french fries.