San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

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December 2005

The wail of police car and fire truck sirens filled the street at about 5:30 last night. From the sound of it, there was either a holocaust in progress or there was going to be a parade. The air was too cold to support the holocaust theory, so it was time to find a place to stand on the edge of a sidewalk.

No one knows how these things get organized in San Felipe. There must be a dark, sound-proof room somewhere that sequesters the town fathers while they plan parades. And no one is allowed to leak the information on pain of death. This year the secret date of the Christmas Parade was well-kept. Being a spectator was certainly a serendipitous stroke of fate. You'd have to be standing on the side of the right sidewalk facing the right way when the parade rolled by. Or, like the crowds of Mexicans that cheered this year's desfile, you'd want to know what all the sirens were about.

San Felipe loves a parade more than anything, except perhaps a visit from the pope. If the people here could put their homes on wheels, they'd be pleased to roll them past your window every afternoon, with music booming from the chimneys.

A bangled police car with an attention-grabbing siren was the vanguard of this year's Christmas parade. The big trucks followed close behind, lit up like vaquero belt buckles. Then came the lesser but no less impressive stars of the procession. Pickup trucks, trailers, sand rails and conveyances of unknown pedigree, all beaming their electric smiles, rolling past peoples that cheered and scrambled for candies thrown from the passing floats.

It was another good parade.