USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘southwest’
Festival

Parada Del Sol, Western Heritage Parade

The Parada Del Sol is an annual parade in Scottsdale, Arizona. My father is an active, yearly participant since he was very young.

Me: What is the Parada Del Sol?

TC: The Parada Del Sol, has been around for a very long time and it’s the larget horse drawn parade in the country. And it’s also, when I was a kid, the parade coincided with the parade del sol rodeo, so the parade was on Saturday and the rodeo is the Saturday and Sunday. It’s in the springtime and runs through Old Towne Scottsdale. Different equeestrain groups from around Arizona, different government  figures, and civic groups like Native American groups and the Sherrif’s posse and the Scottsdale charros and girl scout groups all walk or ride in the parade. The streets are lined with spectators and it’s an all day affair.

Me: What is the purpose of the parade?
The purpose is to maintain the western heritage of Scottsdale. We are the west’s most western city and have a lot of pride in our western heritage. It’s a combination of our cowboy history, Native American history and Mexican history that makes up the culture of our state and we are celebrating that to remind people of the greatness of our state and to let the kids know where they are living and the history and culture that is found here in Arizona and especially Scottsdale.

Me: Who chooses the parade participants?

TC: A non-profit group has run the parade since the beginning. A committee that runs the parade chooses the participants, it’s a non-government group. It’s a lot of same groups every year with new members, but there is a lot of new groups that pop up.

Analysis:

Festivals and parades are great ways to express identity, whether of a nation or town. They bring together elements they deem important to their identity and display and perform that for everyone to see. The participants are either performing some aspect of their identity or the spectators are watching and passively participating. This festival is expressing the western identity of Scottsdale, Arizona and of Arizona in general by parading members of the community from all walks of life that express western culture. Whether that be an Apache group in traditional dress or the Sherif’s Posse in traditional cowboy dress on horseback. They are expressing and celebrating what they believe is their western culture. People of all backgrounds attend and participate, therefore it is an inclusive celebrating that projects a sense of community around the shared past of the state. It’s put on by a cultural group and participated in by the general public. The parade occurs in the spring when it is starting to warm up again, the name Parada Del Sol in Spanish means parade of the sun, Scottsdale, Arizona is known for its heat and it is something that all Arizonans know and consider part of their identity, that is this shared experience of the extreme heat. Therefore the sun is an important part of their daily lives. The rodeo (it does not happen anymore), is another performance and celebration of Western heritage as Arizona is the birthplace of the Rodeo,which stems from competition based on real life skills needed in cattle ranching. Therefore a rodeo is a large part of the community celebration of western heritage and tradition.

 

Customs
Legends
Myths
Narrative

White Mountain skinwalker

Informant discusses a personal experience she had in Arizona over a decade ago.

SP: I was maybe ten at this point– I think it was probably ten or eleven, and I remember the first thing that freaked me out was my dog growling like crazy at nothing we could see. We were driving from Santa Fe and we crossed the border into Arizona and there’s this mountain chain there called the White Mountains. Super pretty, green, all that. Anyway, we had our dog with us, he was a terrier so pretty small and generally pretty chill, but he started doing this low growl and staring out the window. Almost like he wanted to launch himself out at something.

TK: So what did you see? I remember you telling me about this a while back. An animal, right?

SP: I looked out and there was this tall figure that looked like a mountain lion– some kind of big cat like– umm…it was standing on its hind legs, like a bear might, not natural. Maybe like fifty feet off the road in the woods. Not a bear, for sure.

TK: Did you guys stop or do anything?

SP: I told my parents and they figured it was some kind of illusion. I was reading a book in the backseat like usual and I guess they thought it was my imagination. But I remember being freaked out and the dog wouldn’t stop growling until like five miles later.

THE INFORMANT: The informant is a mid-twenties female who grew up traveling with her family frequently and was always interested in myths and legends at a young age, specifically in cryptids (unproven or mythical animals) due to a childhood fascination with shape-shifting animals. She has never seen anything like this since but has heard similar stories of large animals walking on their hind legs in mountainous or rural regions, often chasing or looking at cars.

ANALYSIS: There seems to be a cultural emphasis on shape-shifters that is especially prevalent around communities of Native American tribes, who call them skinwalkers and usually choose not to talk about them at all due to the belief that discussing a thing will give it power and/or summon it (also seen in the Christian idea of summoning demons and, pop-culturally, in the Harry Potter universe as a protective spell against Voldemort– “he who must not be named.”) The skinwalker is often described as an evil person who got too involved in black magic and lost his or her human form, becoming more of a spirit and sometimes known to shift shape (mostly into animal forms) and often chase cars. Skinwalkers usually are described as being larger than average size, if they do appear as an animal they have eerily human mannerisms such as walking on their hind legs, and those who encounter them often report a true feeling of dread. The informant does not know much about this tradition and cannot say for certain much more about the appearance of the creature.

Legends
Narrative

La Chupacabra

My informant is a freshman at USC. He is half white and half Puerto Rican but was raised solely by his Puerto Rican mother and grandmother along with his younger brother in San Antonio Texas.

 

“So it’s supposed to be a mixture between like a vampire and a wolf. So its supposed to be like, a demon-dog kind of? La chupacabra. People’s sheep and cows and stuff started to die mysteriously and…they would like, have weird bite marks that they couldn’t identify on them. It never tears up the animal, there’s just these like…just like these two bite marks in them. That’s why they think it’s a mixture between a mixture between a wolf and a vampire…that’s what it lives off of. And it’s not supposed to be too big it’s supposed to be around like, two feet long and a foot high. But its really vicious with like red eyes and hairless…it, it looks like a rabid coyote pretty much…like a rabid fox. And its…its, people have claimed to have found the Chupacabra multiple times and they’ve found like…dog looking things but most of the time people find “Chupacabras” its like a diseased coyote or a rabid dog. And so, there’s been like sightings of it in Mexico and South Texas—where I’m from—which is where I heard about it. And my grandma you know, used to like scare me you know, saying like, ‘If you go outside at night or if you walk around’ like if I got out of bed at night, ‘the chupacabra will come and get you.’ So I guess that’s where I heard the story from.”

 

Analysis: The legend is said to have originated from from the mysterious disappearance of peoples livestock. Unexplained bite marks and animals that had been completely drained of blood were unsettling sights in the areas where La Chupacabra was rumored to have been sighted. The legend has taken on the purpose of scaring young children as a means of preventing them from wandering off or getting up in the middle of the night. Mothers and grandmothers would tell their children the story of La Chupacabra to instill good behavior. Given the graphic nature of the way in which La Chupacabra sucks the blood from its victims, the story seems scary enough to keep little children in bed at night and prevent them from engaging in bad late night behavior. Another version of this story can be found on Animal Planets “Lost Tapes” section of their webpage:

http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/lost-tapes/creatures/chupacabra-history/

 

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