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Mexico prepares for massive celebration marking 200 years of independence

posted 12 Sep 2010, 04:24 by Mpelembe   [ updated 12 Sep 2010, 08:46 ]

Mexican dancers and puppeteers add the final touches to their costumes and dance routine as the country prepares to celebrate 200 years of independence with a large parade.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (SEPTEMBER 11, 2010) REUTERS - As Mexicans prepare to mark the 200th anniversary of their independence, event organizers in charge of putting on a massive parade along Mexico City's famed Paseo de la Reforma added the final touches to their costumes, parade floats and dance routines.

Mexico will usher in 200 years of independence on September 15 with the traditional "El Grito". Reforma Avenue, Mexico City's main avenue marked by a golden statue known as "The Angel of Independence", will be filled with revelers in what some are calling the largest parade of its kind.

The parade will feature some 27 floats that will highlight major episodes in Mexico's history and will also include three concerts.

Behind the large scale celebration are two leading event producers who have overseen opening ceremonies for the Olympics among other internationally famed events.

Creative Director Marco Balich who put together the 2008 Venice Festival and the opening events for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, told Reuters TV he thinks the parade will be one of the world's largest events.

"What is very special about this show in the world, is that, to me, it is the biggest parade in the moment. Bigger than the Carnival of Rio, bigger than Macy's (Thanksgiving Day Parade), bigger than Pasadena, bigger than Love Parade in Berlin," Balich said while sitting in front of a parade floats depicting colorful devils in an ode to the country's Day of the Dead celebrations.

"And also, the interesting thing is that it tells, it questions a lot of the identities of the Mexican people. What are the Mexican people today and where are they going?" he added.

Mexico prepares to celebrate its independence from Spanish rule amidst violence that has spiraled out of control between drug cartels vying for territory. Some 16 municipalities, including the border city Ciudad Juarez, have canceled events related to the bicentennial celebrations due to security concerns.

Regardless, event organizer Ric Birch told Reuters TV the parade marks Mexico's journey through history and will not focus on the violence.

"The bicentenary is the celebration of 200 years of independence. The drug cartels' violence that is taking place in contemporary Mexico is just a tiny blip in history," Birch said. "We're celebrating 200 years of independence which will lead Mexico into the future. Its being celebrated by an enormous wide spectrum of the Mexican population."

The celebration kicks off at 16:00 Mexican time (2000GMT) and will run until dawn on September 16, being interrupted once to mark the traditional "Grito" that called all Mexicans to independence.

Mexico City held a campaign to pick the some 7,000 volunteers who will be working during the event, among them the youngest being a mere 7 years of age and the oldest 83.