November The Month of Parades!

posted by Tamara Sikes
Click on the image to view gallery (6 pictures)


The sound of drumming is already filling the air as the residents of Bocas Del Toro prepare for November.  Everywhere you go you can feel the excitement as the school children practice marching, baton twirling, and playing the drums and xylophones.  The students practice during their recess, as well as after school, never complaining about losing their free time because for them and all Panamanians celebrating their history and independence is an important part of life and a way for them to show their dedication to the country.

Along with the school children, neighborhood drum lines, the Bomberos (firemen), and local dance groups prepare for their part in the festivities.  All of November is a parade in Bocas, a brightly colored, patriotic sounding, never ending celebration.  Traditional costumes of vivid colors are worn by the dancers,  called Pollera, the full bright skirts twirl down the street to the beat of drums played in perfect rhythm, the flash of the shiny batons as they sail into the air is almost like stars twinkling in the daytime.  Children and adults alike share the streets as the parades or desfiles begin.  The locals who do not march serve as spectators along with the hundreds or thousands of visitors to the island and watch in amazement as the talented patriotic citizens celebrate their independence and freedom!

The first day of celebrating is November 3rd when the country celebrates Panama becoming its own Republic with its separation from Columbia on that day in 1903.  It is officially called Separation Day.  The next big day is November 4th, Flag Day or Dia de la Bandera .  The day was officially named when a duo of Panamanians secretly designed and sewed a flag while Panama readied itself for separation.  The flag was presented on November 4th, 1903 just one day after officially becoming a republic.  November 5th is Colon day and is a way to remember when the provinces of Colon and Panama City joined forces to make official the Separation from Columbia.  November 10 Panamanians observe the “Cry for Freedom” or “El Primer Grito de Independencia en la Villa de Los Santos”, which happened in the town of La Villa de Los Santos and marked the separation from Columbia throughout the nation. The last holiday celebrated this month is November 28th. Panama was a part of Colombia when Colombia obtained independence from Spain on the 28th of November, 1821. This day is called independence day.

But with all of these big holidays, the favorite one in Bocas Del Toro is of course Bocas day! On November 16 is the Fundacion de la Provincia de Bocas Del Toro or the founding of the province in 1904, this day is celebrated with parades and other events. And Bocas town is full of people.  One of the most fun days of the year is shared with residents from all the other towns, villages, smaller islands and neighborhoods within our province of Bocas Del Toro.  People from Almirante and Changuinola are joined by Bocas residents, as well as all other island communities within the archipelago and the people celebrate from the time the sun comes up until they can’t celebrate any longer.  The parade itself lasts for hours and is miles long.  All the schools are represented with marching bands, flag presentation, baton twirling, acrobatics and everything else you can think of.  They begin practicing for their parades more than 6 months in advance! It is one of their biggest celebrations so they make sure the show is incredible! Food vendors are lined up along each street and local artisans sell their crafts.  The town comes alive for this day and the pride of being from Bocas Del Toro is like nothing else!  It is a must see event in our wonderful island paradise, please join us in celebrating the history and heritage!!

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