Tag Archives: parades

Parada Del Sol, Western Heritage Parade

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 47
Occupation: RBC Branch Manager
Residence: Phoenix, Arizona
Date of Performance/Collection: April 15, 2017
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

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.


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.


Fiesta San Antonio

--Informant Info--
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA / Carmel, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/20/16
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

TO is a junior at the University of Southern California, and spent most of her childhood in San Antonio, TX.

TO described a popular festival that took place in her hometown:

“Fiesta is just a giant celebration held right around now in San Antonio, and it’s supposed to celebrate the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. The whole thing is really colorful: people wear colorful clothes and decorate everything with bright flowers, and they have these things called cascarones, which are hollow eggs filled with confetti that you’d crack on e=people’s heads. They also have this ‘Battle of Flowers’ parade, where they literally have a calvary, and they pick a bunch of local girls to be ‘princesses.’ The princesses wear these huge colorful gowns covered in flowers with really long trains, and they each ride on a float.”

I asked TO if having the parade in her hometown made it less special over the years:

“A bit, yeah. The whole thing was really fun but I didn’t really participate much. The public schools would always get school off on the day of the Battle of the Flowers, like it was a holiday, but I never did. I was always a little weirded out by the princesses, and I knew a couple girls who participated in that, but I was never really interested. You had to be a part of a very old San Antonio family to be in it, and honestly be pretty wealthy. It kind of had a debutante ball vibe, like you were presenting yourself to Texas society.”

My analysis:

Fiesta San Antonio sounds a lot like other festivals around the world, with parades, cavalry and a princess “court.” This had it’s own Texas coloring though, and as someone from southern California I’d never heard of most of these traditions, or things like the cascarones. It was interesting to learn about the vivid relationship the city has with the Texas Revolution, and it almost makes San Antonio seem like a different kid of American city – the old Mexican influence is still very prevalent there, unlike a more modern influence in Los Angeles. The local history clearly still impacts citizens today, but the novelty can wear off after awhile for people like TO.

Pasadena New Year’s and New Year’s Eve

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Japanese-American; Irish-American
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Pasadena, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/16/16
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

JH is a senior at an all-boys Catholic high school in La Canada Flintridge, CA. He lives with his parents in Pasadena, CA.

JH talked to me about some of the traditions and rituals that surround New Year’s and New Year’s Eve in his hometown:

“New Years is probably the biggest event in Pasadena…first of all there’s the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game…for the Rose Parade you always know it’s coming because in like, late November they start putting up the grandstands down Orange Grove [a major boulevard], and I live right above the Rose Bowl so they start setting up for events around then too in the neighborhood. They put up these giant white tents down there where they start building some of the floats, and you can go down and help decorate them with flowers – I’ve never gone, but I know some people or their families go every year. The floats are really cool.

There’s also the Rose Court and they’re a big part of the Rose Parade. My sister tried out a few years ago. I think in like September, or really early in the school year, all the girls who are seniors can try out, and they go to this really big mansion called the Tournament House and have a bunch of rounds of interviews. Obviously like, not all the girls are really interested in being on the Court, but it’s just a tradition they all do together. Everyone who participates I know also gets two tickets to this ‘Royal Ball,’ which is basically just a huge dance they have. That’s why a lot of girls do it I guess, just to get the tickets. But I don’t know, maybe it’s also just fun for them to participate. And then they eventually pick like six or seven girls, and one of them is the Queen, and they spend the rest of the year doing charity work and being like, the representatives of Pasadena, and then on New Years they have their own float and they kind of “preside” over the Rose Bowl game later that day.

A lot of my friends don’t really go to the actual parade though…it’s the kind of thing you go to a few times when you’re little and your parents want to take you and it’s exciting – they have free donuts under the grandstands, and hot chocolate – but once you’re like, 10 everyone’s pretty over it. And then when you’re older, the best part about New Years is New Years Eve. The night before, everyone usually gets dressed up, not fancy or anything but girls wear dresses and heels sometimes, and even though it’s freezing outside, like less than 50 degrees at night, everyone goes to parties near the Parade Route. They bring some of the floats onto the street the night before and block it off to cars, to everyone’s just walking up and down Orange Grove looking at floats and hanging out with their friends, there’s some people camped out for the parade on the side, and kids are going back and forth between other people’s parties. It’s really funny because everyone is drinking too. Besides the kids, you see a lot of cops and a lot of people’s parents just really really drunk on the street, and everyone’s just having a good time…if you lived off of Orange Grove you would feel kind of obligated to have a party or open your house up. And then everyone would obviously like count down to midnight together and all that, and then you’d usually crash at someone’s house and wake up the next morning and watch the parade on TV, if you wanted to, or just walk up to the parade route and see it from there. But after awhile no one really got tickets to see the parade. But if you were really lucky, you got tickets to the Rose Bowl game, which was always a big deal. My friends and I really like football, and usually someone’s dad knows someone who can get us tickets, so we try to go whenever we can.”

I asked JH if he thought his experience with this festival was unique, as someone who lived in the community and had people coming from all over to vacation in his hometown:

“Yeah, it was definitely different. Growing up with this happening every year, a lot of it just got kind of annoying, especially living right next to the Rose Bowl and having streets blocked off and so much traffic that entire week before New Years. There’d be a lot of football fans from the Midwest of whatever Big-10 school that was playing, or Stanford people coming down from the Bay for the week, and there’d be just a bunch of people and a bunch of cars all over Pasadena during the end of winter break, a lot of people who didn’t know where they were going. I guess Pasadena isn’t usually a tourist destination until New Years, so it’s weird all of a sudden having a bunch of strangers in your hometown…like Pasadena isn’t small, it doesn’t feel like a small town where everyone knows each other, but you can clearly tell if someone is visiting or someone lives here. And yeah, the Rose Parade gets old after awhile, but I think everyone who lives here would still say it’s one of their favorite holidays.”

My analysis:

Its very different to visit a festival annually and to live in a community where an annual festival takes place – after awhile, the nostalgia and excitement is buffered by some of the logistical nightmares and fatigue that JH describes above. Pasadena New Year’s and New Year’s Eve definitely has similar traditions as other places, like counting down to midnight and getting together with friends and family. The Rose Parade also has elements of other festivals, like floats and a “court” of young women. JH gets to see community involvement a tourist doesn’t, like the selection of Rose Princesses or the decoration of floats that requires residents’ participation and support. This ritual is a great example of welcoming the new year by bringing a community together, while continuing customs that now have come to define Pasadena.

For more information about this festival, see:

“About the Rose Parade.” Tournament of Roses. Tournament of Roses, 18 Feb. 2016. Retrieved from https://www.tournamentofroses.com/rose-parade.

Summer Solstice, Santa Barbara

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Caucasian
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/25/13
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Informant: “We have a Summer Solstice parade which is pretty wild too, but that doesn’t have anything to do with Fiesta. That’s a weird parade. I can’t even… It’s literally– the point of it is to be as weird as you physically, possibly can. There are people in, like, snow globes and they have, like, crazy make-up on. And they’re like, there’s, like, pregnant women doing, like, belly dancing.”

Lavelle: “So it’s like all the weird people come out–”

Informant: “Oh! It’s, like, people, it’s just, like, people who are like, ‘I’m usually a normal person, but I want my freak flag to fly.’ I don’t understand it but, Summer Solstice is the weirdest day in Santa Barbara. Like fiesta it’s, like, everyone’s drunk and blah lah lah… but that’s normal…”

Lavelle: “Where does summer solstice happen?:

Informant: “Uh, State Street. It all happens on State Street. It is the most bizarre parade and just… People make these floats that are, like, so strange and you’re just watching it and you’re like, ‘what drugs are you on?’ Like I imagine people would have a great time if they smoked some weed. It’s trippy, dude.

My informant is a native of Santa Barbara, California. He has never been very involved in the Summer Solstice celebration, but is aware of it’s existence. He seems wary of the population it draws into the town.