Photo depicting dancers performing Mexico's national dance during a parade.

PHOTO ESSAY | Fiestas Patrias Parade 2023

by Agueda Pacheco

South Park neighbors were ready early, vying for the best spots ahead of Saturday’s annual Fiestas Patrias parade. Lawn chairs lined South Cloverdale Street while vendors sold chicharrones, barbacoa, and aguas frescas.

The annual parade was hosted by SeaMar, Washington State’s storied Latino community health organization. On its website, SeaMar, which set “Celebrating the Colors of Our Culture” as the theme to this year’s event, says the theme represents the “proud heritage of who we are and where we come from by celebrating the diversity in color, culture, customs and languages.”

A piñata float makes its way down South Cloverdale Street. (Photo: Agueda Pacheco)

Fiestas Patrias, which translates to “homeland parties” in English, are celebrated by a number of Latin American countries that separated from Spain in the month of September during the colonial period. The Fiestas Patrias are kicked off by Mexico, which celebrates its independence on Sept. 15. The 15th also signals the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. The other six Latin American countries that celebrate their independence this month include Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, and Costa Rica.

At noon on Saturday, a single traditional Mexican charro holding a Mexican Flag on horseback signaled the start of the parade, which began at SeaMar’s South Park clinic and ended at the South Park Community Center. Behind him, a line of people carrying flags from different Latin American countries, such as El Salvador and Chile, followed.

“¡Viva Mexico!” the charro yelled.

“¡Viva!” the crowd yelled back.

“¡Viva Guatemala!” he yelled, and again the crowd responded, “¡Viva!”

A traditional Mexican charro, dressed in attire that resembles what was worn during the Mexican Revolution for Independence, kicks off the parade holding the Mexican flag. (Photo: Agueda Pacheco)

The parade lasted an hour and was attended by many local South End organizations, groups, schools, and politicians. Among them were the Chief Sealth International High School cheer team and band, Casa Latina, Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, and Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.

Local troupes Herencias Mexicanas and Joyas Mestizas danced traditional folkloric ballets from several different Mexican regions, including the Huapango and the Jarabe Tapatío.

And just as the parade started, so, too, did it end with a galloup as dozens of charros and escaramuzas rode down the street on horseback, some riders with their horses even trotting in dressage style. All the while, a band played traditional music from Jalisco, Mexico.

The Martinez family prepares chicharrones and aguas frescas outside their establishment, Taqueria el Rincon Express, in South Park. (Photo: Agueda Pacheco)
“Joe Joe” waits for the parade to start outside his South Park home. (Photo: Agueda Pacheco)
A Cadillac lowrider, a symbol of Chicano culture, an offshoot of Mexican culture, shows off its hydraulics. (Photo: Agueda Pacheco)
A group of children with dance group Joyas Mestizas. The boy is dressed as a traditional charro and the girls are dressed in the typical Japana attire from Yucatan. (Photo: Agueda Pacheco)
Traditional horsewomen, known as escaramuzas, sit sidesaddle on their steeds. (Photo: Agueda Pacheco)
An escaramuza waves to the crowd while sitting sidesaddle. (Photo: Agueda Pacheco)
A line of Mexican horsemen or charros, strut and trot in unison for the Fiestas Patrias parade. (Photo: Agueda Pacheco)

Editors’ Note: This article was updated on 09/20/2023 to correct the name of the dance group photographed.

Agueda Pacheco Flores is a journalist focusing on Latinx culture and Mexican American identity. Originally from Querétaro, Mexico, Pacheco is inspired by her own bicultural upbringing as an undocumented immigrant and proud Washingtonian.

Before you move on to the next story …

The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With around 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible.

If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn’t have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference.

We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!