Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City honored quake victims

A raised fist made of helmets, pick axes and broken rubble rolled ahead of hundreds of walking skeletons, costumed dancers and flowery floats Saturday in Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade, which this year honored the 228 capital residents killed by a Sept. 19 earthquake.

“Thank you, rescuers!” belted out Guadalupe Perez, 56, as she passed the sculpture, which was followed by contingents of men, women and dogs who had searched for survivors amid the rubble of collapsed buildings. The parade also honored them.

Mexico City’s central Zocalo plaza was filled by the papier mache dead, skeletal Catrina figures and candle-covered shrines where people were invited to place photographs of those killed in two recent earthquakes, which together left more than 400 dead across the country.

A raised fist was the signal the rescuers gave for silence to hear if anyone was trapped under the rubble left by the most recent quake. It “has become a national and international symbol,” parade coordinator Julio Blasina told The Associated Press.

“We had an obligation to pay tribute to the fallen, while transmitting the message that the city is still standing,” Blasina said.

This year’s parade featured a kilometer-and-a-half of floats honoring the celebration, which is an amalgam of pre-Hispanic and other traditions. White, orange, purple and black paper cut-outs covered part of the Zocalo. Beneath them were papier mache skeletons with rescue vests and helmets, symbolizing volunteers from the regions affected by the earthquakes, including Oaxaca, Chiapas, Morelos, Puebla and Guerrero. Other skeletons represented victims.

“We must not forget that the country is in mourning because there are many who do not have a home,” said Guadalupe Perez, whose apartment was badly damaged in a quake. “But this is a beautiful party, unique in the world.”

Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations traditionally consisted of quiet family gatherings at the graves of their departed loved ones bringing them music, drink and conversation. On the Nov. 1-2 holiday, Mexicans set up altars with photographs of the dead and plates of their favorite foods in their homes. They gathered at their loved ones’ gravesides to drink, sing and talk to the dead.

In some towns, families leave a trail of orange marigold petals in a path to their doorways so the spirits of the dead can find their way home. Some light bonfires for the same purpose, sitting around the fire and warming themselves with cups of boiled-fruit punch to ward off the autumn chill.

But it is increasingly celebrated with parades rife with floats, giant skeleton marionettes and thousands of participants. Influences of American Halloween celebrations and Hollywood zombie films are common.

“All our roots are reflected here,” said Leo Cancino, who took his family to see Saturday’s parade in Mexico City. “Many are afraid of death but no, it’s part of life.” (AP)

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Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Performers participate in the Day of the Dead parade on Mexico City’s main Reforma Avenue, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. Mexico’s capital is holding its Day of the Dead parade, an idea actually born out of the imagination of a scriptwriter for the James Bond movie “Spectre.” (Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Parade of mobile offerings, are part of the Day of the Dead festivities that took place in Mexico City on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Omar Lopez/ZUMA Wire/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City honored quake victims

Volunteers who participated in the rescue operations following the September 19 quake in central Mexico take part in the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Victor Cruz/AFP/Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

A performer participates in the Day of the Dead parade on Mexico City’s main Reforma Avenue, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

People take part in the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Victor Cruz/AFP/Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Parade of mobile offerings, are part of the Day of the Dead festivities that took place in Mexico City on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Omar Lopez/ZUMA Wire/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Parade of mobile offerings, are part of the Day of the Dead festivities that took place in Mexico City on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Omar Lopez/ZUMA Wire/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

People are seen participate during the traditional Skulls Parade as part of Day of the Dead celebrations at Reforma Avenue on Oct. 28, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Parade of mobile offerings, are part of the Day of the Dead festivities that took place in Mexico City on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Omar Lopez/ZUMA Wire/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Participants are seen during the traditional Day of the Dead parade at Reforma Avenue in Mexico City, Mexico on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/REX/Shutterstock)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Local residents enjoy the Day of the Dead parade on Mexico City’s main Reforma Avenue, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Performers participate in the Day of the Dead parade on Mexico City’s main Reforma Avenue, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Participants are seen during the traditional Day of the Dead parade at Reforma Avenue in Mexico City, Mexico on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/REX/Shutterstock)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Performers participate in the Day of the Dead parade on Mexico City’s main Reforma Avenue, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

People are seen participate during the traditional Skulls Parade as part of Day of the Dead celebrations at Reforma Avenue on Oct. 28, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Revelers in costume participate in the Day of the Dead parade on Mexico City’s main Reforma Avenue, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

People are seen participate during the traditional Skulls Parade as part of Day of the Dead celebrations at Reforma Avenue on Oct. 28, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

People are seen participate during the traditional Skulls Parade as part of Day of the Dead celebrations at Reforma Avenue on Oct. 28, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

People are seen participate during the traditional Skulls Parade as part of Day of the Dead celebrations at Reforma Avenue on Oct. 28, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico (Photo: Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

A puppet depicting the skeleton of a dog participates in a procession to commemorate Day of the Dead in Mexico City, Mexico, Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

People dressed as skeletons and Mexican popular character Catrina participate in a parade to mark the Day of the Dead in Mexico City, Mexic, Oct. 28, 2017. The Calavera Catrina, or ‘Dapper Skeleton’, is the most representative image of the Day of the Dead, a indigenous festivity that honours ancestors and occurs from 01 to 02 Nov. 1 to 2. (Photo: Mario Guzman/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Participants are seen during the traditional Day of the Dead parade at Reforma Avenue in Mexico City, Mexico on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/REX/Shutterstock)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Performers participate in the Day of the Dead parade on Mexico City’s main Reforma Avenue, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Participants are seen during the traditional Day of the Dead parade at Reforma Avenue in Mexico City, Mexico on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/REX/Shutterstock)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

People are seen participate during the traditional Skulls Parade as part of Day of the Dead celebrations at Reforma Avenue on Oct. 28, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

People are seen participate during the traditional Skulls Parade as part of Day of the Dead celebrations at Reforma Avenue on Oct. 28, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

People are seen participate during the traditional Skulls Parade as part of Day of the Dead celebrations at Reforma Avenue on Oct. 28, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Performers participate in the Day of the Dead parade on Mexico City’s main Reforma Avenue, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

People are seen participate during the traditional Skulls Parade as part of Day of the Dead celebrations at Reforma Avenue on Oct. 28, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo: Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

A god with a costume is seen during the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Victor Cruz/AFP/Getty Images)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

Performers participate in the Day of the Dead parade on Mexico City’s main Reforma Avenue, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City

A woman has her make up applied as she waits for the start of a Day of the Dead parade to begin along Mexico City’s main Reforma Avenue, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

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