The major event of the Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico City is the big parade which is held the Saturday before. This is a relatively new event which was first held in 2016. In 2015, the James Bond movie "Spectre" was filmed in Mexico City. The film opens with a carnival-like Day of the Dead parade... a parade which, in fact, had never existed. However, when tourists started asking, "When is the Day of the Dead Parade?", the city government decided to cash in on the interest. Purists consider the event a "fake" tradition, but the parade is enjoyed by Mexicans and foreign tourists alike.
Alejandro and I attended the second parade in 2017, and it was great fun. The next year, my friends Nancy and Fred came to Mexico City for Day of the Dead, and we attended that parade. We had fun, but it was obvious that the event was growing in popularity. The crowd was much larger. In 2019, I chose not to attend. Standing for hours waiting in order to get a good spot along the parade route and dealing with an estimated crowd of more than one million people, just did not seem like my idea of fun.
In 2020 the COVID pandemic resulted in the cancelation of the parade, as well as any travel plans on my part. In 2021, the parade was held once again, and I was once again traveling. However, the pandemic was far from over, and Alejandro and I were leery about being amid a large crowd. We watched the parade on TV.
This year I really was not planning on attending the parade, BUT then a couple of Alejandro's friends said that they were going to attend, and they wanted us to join them. I have to admit that I was not thrilled about being in that mad crush of people, but I went along.
This year, the parade was going to begin later, not until 5:00 P.M. Also, it was going to go in the opposite direction, ending at the Zócalo, the main plaza, instead of starting there. On Saturday we were supposed to meet Alejandro's friends at 1:30 in the afternoon, at the Reforma 222 shopping mall. From there we would head down along the Paseo de la Reforma to find a good spot for watching the parade. I was still a bit skeptical, thinking that the crowds would have already lined the boulevard hours before.
Alejandro and I took the Metrobus from my apartment. Because of the parade, the bus was not running its entire route. But from the last stop it was a short walk to the shopping mall. Inside the mall there were a number of "Mexicráneos", the large painted, fiberglass skulls that have become another recent tradition for the Day of the Dead.
There were also a number of the benches where you can have a photo op between a "catrina" and a "catrín". The benches are sponsored by a Mexico City chain of funeral homes.
Shortly after 1:30 Alejandro's friends arrived. We had some ice cream in the mall, and then used the restroom since we would have no opportunity for the next several hours. From the mall we started walking down the Paseo de la Reforma. The boulevard was crowded with people, but I was surprised that not that many people had claimed a spot along the curb for viewing the parade.
By about 3:30 we had reached the traffic circle or "glorieta" of the Monument of Independence.
Here, along the curve of the roundabout, we decided to take our place for viewing the parade. The people in front of us at the curb were all sitting on little benches that they had probably bought from vendors going up and down the street. We were easily able to see over their heads. In fact, I towered over the older lady in front of me. Behind us were trees and street vendors, so there weren't that many people pressing in behind us either.
So, we had our positions for viewing, and the crowd was not as bad as I had expected. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the parade to start.