Monday, July 25, 2011 was “Antigua Day” and a holiday off work for the city. I got up at 7 AM to meet my students and the staff of the school where I am volunteering for a parade they were marching in. When I got there, the students were ridiculously cute in home made costumes for the parade. I found out that not only did the parade include over 30 schools from the surrounding community, but ended at the city stadium for a huge procession and dance off.
Me with some of my fifth grade girls
It took about an hour to get the parade organized and all the schools in order. I hung out with some of my fifth graders, who were mesmerized by the drum line behind us accompanied by older girls dancing in short skirts with batons. Crowds lined the streets of Antigua to see all the students marching around in costumes and they city was basically shut down for an entire morning. There must have been a couple of thousand people participating in the parade, plus all of the onlookers partying on street corners.
Some of our boys dressed up in their salsa dancing gear
Even the principal was having a blast at the parade
Once we got to the stadium, each school had a chance to present itself to the bleachers and the crowd. Some schools had marching bands, some were dressed in costumes and simply walked in a circle. The funniest was the school of mimes; they had over a hundred kids with mime makeup acting all mime-like and creepy.
When our school was finally up, the kids were nervous but even more adorable. The boys were practicing their shimmies one final time and the girls adjusting their skirts. Our students were the only ones with an entire dance routine; they salsa danced in couples to a song choreographed by the second grade teacher. I got a fierce sunburn from the stadium that day, but it was worth it. I got to spend some time with my students outside of the school environments.
Brayan, one of my fifth graders, and me!