When we stopped at the Tourist Information for maps Saturday morning in Merida, we noticed flyers promoting some event in Merida that evening. It was in Spanish, so we asked the woman at the desk what it was, and she just said "I don't have the English to fully explain it to you."
We understood it was a big parade, and groups would start from all churches in the city and converge near the main square in Merida, Plaza de Espana. We'd strolled by there the night before and noticed lots of bleachers had been erected.
Using Google Translate, I decoded that the groups Junta de Cofradias (brotherhoods) marched carrying Stations of the Cross and Ano de La Fe means Year of Faith. It was supposed to start at 6 pm, but it was raining hard at the time, so we thought it might be cancelled and went back to our hotel.
Then suddenly around 8;30 pm we heard bands going by, so we grabbed the camera and shot outside. One stream seemed to be heading to town from streets right by us. I thought it was a good sized parade, so I was surprised when we wandered further and there were floats (I'm sure that's not the right term for them - palanquin is better) coming from many more directions and side streets.
Eventually, it turned into one giant log-jam, so there was a lot of standing around, bands and carriers taking smoke breaks, etc. There was a bell on the front of each float that a director for the crew rang with signals to put them down. Some floats had their own stands; others had crews that carried poles to support the palanquin. There were no band majorettes - when they wanted to play, one of the drummers just started a cadence.
We gave up and went to eat after a couple hours, as it was clear the end was a long way off. I went to bed at 1:00am, and still heard bands going by at 1:30! The Spanish are such night owls, even I can't keep up. A side note - we watched some cute little girls playing with umbrellas where we ate lunch around 3pm; bumped into them again in the Square around 10:30. Peter and I had gone home to rest - I wonder if they had? Even the tiny tots hang out late in Spain.
I've never seen anything like it, only the scene in the Godfather Part II, when a young Vito Corleone uses the cover of the parade for the Feast of San Gennaro as a cover to kill Don Fannuci. Only this was real, not a movie. And today, not 150 years ago. And in Spain, not NYC/Little Italy. And no gunshots or murders, that I'm aware of. I'm happy if anyone better versed in Spanish/Catholic celebrations can shed more light.
Anyway, I love a parade, and it was a great thing to stumble on unwittingly during the time we landed in Merida.