We’re suckers for parades. Despite the hassle of getting up at the crack of dawn to claim a prime piece of sidewalk along the parade route, the hours of waiting and baking in the sun are always worth it when we first hear the distant notes of the marching band getting louder by the moment. During our travels we’ve experienced the Fourth of July in New York City and Canada Day in the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, but there’s nothing quite like an epic Mexican Independence Day parade.
During the course of the more than hour-long parade, we got to see every student, every police officer and firefighter, and every military service person on the island of Cozumel. And we mean everyone. Wave after wave of school children brought up the front of the parade, and it was fascinating to see the amazing variety of uniforms among the students of all ages, from pre-K up through university. They were followed by all the police officers, firefighters, and ambulance drivers, who then were followed by the army, navy, and air force personnel on the island. The time went surprisingly fast, and as the final flag and snare drum passed we still were wanting more. However, the rides and attractions set up in the town square gave us a push to keep going with the day’s festivities.
Fives’ Facts about Independence Day in Cozumel
* Fireworks: Some impressive fireworks are set alight the night before on September 15th around 11:00 PM. While the most popular place to view is from the main square, we found our 2nd floor bathroom window gave us a perfect view with all the comforts of home.
* Where to Watch the Parade: The parade route is along the Malecon (coastal boulevard) from the Municipal Palace north several blocks toward the airport. We found a good shaded spot in front of the Mega supermarket which made it super convenient to take bathroom breaks and get refreshments.
* When to Arrive: After asking around, we gathered that the parade started at 8:00 AM. Therefore, we made sure to arrive at our spot on the parade route around 7:55 AM. The street, though, was completely deserted. The reason, we discovered, is that the parade actually starts around 9:15 AM. Even as the parade began, there was still plenty of space on the sidewalk. Lesson learned: no need to rush :)
* Patriotic Accessories: We debated whether to invest a few pesos in Mexican flags and decorations to wave during the parade. In the end, we never got around to buying any. This ended up being a wise move as none of the spectators went overboard with the red, white, and green. The only flags were in the parade itself, so it’s probably best to leave the face paint at home.
* Fair in the Square: The main square has a carnival-like atmosphere for the week leading up to Independence Day. There are plenty of amusements for the kids, including carousels, trampolines, and pint-sized roller coasters.