Yesterday was Belize’s 37th Independence day and countrywide the nation turned out in style to say “Happy Birthday Belize”. While it always had been great the past few years, the parade has been a little light. This year it finally felt like it was getting back on track towards what it once used to be (but still nowhere near as big.) I say that because 12 years back and the next few years following, there were so many more parades, decorated golf carts, and big flatbed trucks for floats with increased giant speaker action.
I will never forget my first Independence Day experience back in 2006 (before I became a Belize Blogger). It was and to date still is the biggest parade I have ever seen on the island, though I am willing to bet, some have seen bigger. It’s going to be hard to top that in the future, but this year’s line up definitely gives me hope that it can be done.
Every year the parade and getting there (where ever I chose to watch from) is similar but wildly different. This year was no exception. It all started with the morning being on Belize time. As I was putting on my celebratory colors, I could hear the siren in the distance signaling me to step on it so I catch the start of the parade.
I did not see any of the friends I had loose plans to meet with and of course, I ran into many friends I had no plans with. The first two I saw when I came barreling down Buckaneer Street were Mary and Tamara from our local newspaper and tourism magazine, ‘My Beautiful Belize’. This was fortunate on my part as those girls are also crowd cutting professionals, and swiftly had us navigating through the spectators and parade to the other side. We made it to Front Street just in time to catch the full parade at one of the best parts when it disperses into the park and turns into a big party.
Tamara also agreed that this year the festivities were moving in the direction of the parades former glory.
It was great to see so many groups participating is the parade this year! The colors, costumes and creativity was some of the best I’ve seen in years. I’m so happy to see a revived enthusiasm for this annual parade that so many look forward to each year, it really embraces all that is Belize! I hope this parade passion maintains its momentum and I’m already looking forward to next year’s extravaganza! – Tamara Sniffin, San Pedro Sun News Paper.
One thing that always amazes me is the rush of energy at the end of the parade. Many of the dancers manage to pull the last bit of battery power and go all out on their moves at the finish line. I will say the after party this year was on the quiet side for sure, compared to years past. I am not surprised though, as it was super hot and no doubt the paraders were ready for a good meal and a nap – I know I was. That is exactly what I did, I stopped at the BBQ stand that said: “for a good cause”. I did not ask what the cause was and I just knew that a late lunch of fresh barbecued pork chop and sides was a good move before settling down for a nap, so I would be fresh for dinner.
My date landed me back in the park for shrimp tacos, so I can accurately confirm the Independence Day parade was not quite as big as the past years, because the after party was done so early on a Friday night. Had I not known it was a “party holiday”, it could have been any other Friday night. There were few telltale signs that the area had been awash with colorfully costumed paraders a few hours before.
No matter what the size, I was glad I went, this year’s parade was a great reminder for me- why I chose to make Belize my home. Fun, fabulous, friendly people, never far from a great view, and there is always great street meat 😀
I will start the pictures with someone else who needed a nap after the parade – many peoples favorite 5-year-old, Tinker. I was super pleased to catch her and her mom Cindy, and snapped a few good pics to send to Grandma in England – done.