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, about 2000 people participate distributed in charangas, floats, dance groups, bagpipes bands and music groups of very different nature. The two Atlantic shores are immediately distinguished: one is sober, serious and orderly, with an almost martial approach in its bagpipe bands and folkloric groups, rather monochrome in their outfits, while the other shore is more colorful, uses more instruments and move your hips without keeping fixed positions. In both cases the music is the protagonist, and by tuning the ear well, the rhythmic similarities between a xiringüelu and bossa nova can be discovered. Hundreds of pieces performed 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 "Indians"They returned with money and contributed to modernizing their towns, paying for the construction of schools, water supplies, the repair of roads and highways, etc.
Alfonso Iglesias, Asturian cartoonist, creator of the mythical characters of Pinón, Telva and Pinín (that of Pinón ye nephew), and promoter, in addition, of the Ovetense Society of Celebrations, successfully presented the idea of the Asturian-American parade. Said and done, his characters and Asturian folklore were mixed in the first parades with the glittering "Haigas", those rare and large American cars ("the largest there is", hence the word) that landed in Spain at the hands of the nouveau riche emigrants. The first parade was held the 23 September 1950 and it has already summoned thousands of people around dozens of "haigas" decked out for the occasion. The first floats -decided by churches- represented the farewell the emigrant, the ship that took him to a safe harbor, the main destination countries: Cuba, Mexico and Argentina, return as "Indian" by 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 it delves into 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 Calle Uría, the capital street of Oviedo, and then continues along an urban circuit through the center of the city. Asturian folk groups are interspersed with those from Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia ...
The local police usually encrypt in about 250.000 people the capacity at street level.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for asturias.com