I really don’t think that every float in a parade needs to play ‘Gangnam Style’ but perhaps I’m not with the times. Then again, the Merida Carnaval Parade has already defied most of my preconceptions.
I’ve asked Americans, Argentinians, Europeans, and other Canadians, and none of us could recall any parade quite so commercialized as Merida Carnaval. The crowds chanted ‘Booger King, Booger King,’ and we realized that about 90% of the floats represented a brand. Some companies, like Booker King, had as little as two floats, while some of the beer companies had up to ten.
The Merida Carnaval Parade also wasn’t just a one day affair either, it was actually staged repeatedly over the course of 4 days and various start times, though if it actually got moving within an hour of the official start time it was a miracle.
Despite the locals’ insistence that each day was unique, my talks with other travelers suggested no determinable difference between the parades, save for perhaps the order of the floats or the 10% local content. Other than those it was the same beer companies and burger joints throwing cups and trinkets.
I suppose the greatest oddity was that for the vast majority of the parade route, you have to pay for access to watch the parade, starting at 30 pesos. That particular arrangement is a far cry from every other parade I’ve ever seen or heard of. In fact, in New Orleans, participants pay hundreds and even thousands to be on the floats and dole out beads. The people viewing and receiving the handouts in New Orleans pay nothing.
Given the way some locals had talked up the parade I had really expected more, not the level of Rio of course, but certainly more than a 2 hour advertisement. I wouldn’t say the Merida Carnaval Parade was a disappointment, it was more just an oddity. Such are the peculiarities of travel in other countries.