Few parades exist in the world that pay homage to emigration-immigration; that way back and forth, sometimes only one way, that the Asturians practiced for decades crossing the Atlantic in search of better luck. Oviedo pays tribute to the crossroads, to the origin and destination, to the bonds created between one another, to opportunities, successes and failures; with a colorful mestizo parade, and music and folklore from both sides.
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Each September 19 happens in Oviedo this multitudinous parade that at times it seems that it does not end. An appointment that every year is inscribed in the celebrations ovetenses of "Saint Matthew" and that has been declared of national tourist interest (international by all means).
The two shores of the Atlantic in Oviedo
In this folkloric exhibition, ostentatious for its chromatic display, some 2000 people participate in charangas, floats, dance groups, bagpipes bands and music groups of very different nature. Immediately the two Atlantic shores are distinguished: one is sober, serious and orderly, with an almost martial approach in their bands of bagpipes and folk groups, rather monochrome in their outfits, while the other shore is more colorful, uses more instruments and move the hips without saving fixed positions. In both cases music is the protagonist, and by tuning the ear well you can discover the rhythmic similarities between a xiringüelu and the bossa nova. Hundreds of pieces played with disparate instruments: maracas, bagpipes, harps, violins, trumpets, trombones, flutes, guitars, saxophones, drums, tambourines and kettledrums. All have a common root: to animate the cotarro.
The party of emigration
The event began almost 70 years ago with the idea of paying homage to the Asturian emigration In Latin America, since the late nineteenth century and until the middle of the twentieth, America was the continent chosen by thousands of Asturians who wanted to try their luck and a better life. Many were the ones who would eventually be forgotten in overseas lands, others, the least, those who began to be called "Indianos", they returned with money and contributed to modernize their towns, supporting the construction of schools, the bringing of water, the repair of roads and highways, etc.
Alfonso Iglesias, Asturian cartoonist, creator of the mythical characters of Pinón, Telva and Pinín (that of Pinón and sobrín), and promoter, in addition, of the Ovetense Society of Celebrations, he successfully exhibited the idea of the Asturian-American parade. Said and done, its characters and the Asturian folklore mixed in the first parades with the gleaming ones "Beams", those American cars, scarce and large ("the biggest one that haiga", hence the word) that disembarked in Spain from the hands of the new rich emigrants. The first parade was held the 23 September 1950 and already called thousands of people around dozens of "haigas" adorned for the occasion. The first floats -decided by churches- represented the farewell of the emigrant, the ship that brought him to a good port, the main countries of destination: Cuba, Mexico and Argentina, and return as "indiano" on plane.
And, of course, Asturias waiting for them with open arms.
Since then, the Day of America in Asturias grew in thousands of spectators, in extension through the streets of Oviedo, also in quality and budget. The Indian is no longer that protective and beneficent figure who returned to a poor Asturias; but the parade remains, essentially, an exercise of collective memory seasoned by the new times.
In addition to the festive character, now deepens in the cultural aspect of the event, in the tolerance and integration that require the new migratory processes present throughout the world. That is why the Asturian event involves parallel meetings with Ibero-American journalists, with businessmen, associations and collectives of different sign.
Diplomats, politicians and personalities witness the event in the first row, along with thousands of chairs are available for the public generated in a monumental grandstand outdoors.
The parade reaches its greatest splendor as it passes through Uría Street, the capital street of Oviedo, and then continues through an urban circuit through the center of the city. Asturian folk groups groups are interspersed with those of Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia ...
The local police usually encrypt in about 250.000 people the capacity at street level.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com