November 5, 2012. Neither Neighbor Roy nor I had ever been to an All Souls Procession. We had heard a lot about it, so last night we ventured Downtown to see what it was all about. Our plan was to find a location near the end of the parade route on the assumption that it would be less crowded and easier to find a place to park. We arrived near Alameda and Granada about 5:45 PM only to discover that half of Tucson was already there. It wasn’t the first time that I had to use my handicap permit to get a decent parking space.
We got Zippy, my 3-wheel electric scooter, out of the car and quickly joined the throngs making their way to the procession. We settled at the corner of Alameda & Church where the police had asked the crowd to stay on the sidewalk. At this point I had a good vantage point from which to take photographs. It was 6:15.
We had done our homework and knew that the procession was scheduled to start around Congress & Toole at 6 PM. We calculated that it wouldn’t reach us for at least a half hour. Wrong. If it started on time, it took only 20 minutes to reach us and the party at Church & Alameda was in full swing at 6:20. I got only a couple of shots off before my “good vantage point” was totally overwhelmed by thousands of Tucsonans moving off the sidewalk and on to the street ahead of me. It became nearly impossible to distinguish the bystanders from the procession.
I put my camera away and Neighbor Roy and I just enjoyed the procession for the next hour like everyone else.
Certainly there were several thousand participants and several tens of thousands of onlookers. Most everyone, participants and the people watching, had come in costume, or at least face-paint. There was no unruliness, just a mass of people having a good time.
Many of the participants carried signs or placards or banners referencing their now-deceased loved ones. I only observed one reference to the Bible, a quote from the Book of Revelations. And one anti-nuke political statement. There were no bands as such. Drummers mostly. An occasional horn-blower. And a couple of bagpipes wheezing out a sorrowful tune.
If the dead were paying any attention last night, they knew that they had been honored.