Not much happens on my street. I do live in a big ol' bustling metropolis and my street is by no means a tree-lined country lane or a suburban cul-de-sac, but not a whole lot happens. There are these guys next door who are a little odd. They hang out in their garage a lot and can occasionally be seen wandering the sidewalks balancing a soccer ball or, a bit more unconventionally, a broom on their head or shoulders, but other than that I hardly live where the action is. Still, and this is what is superlative and surreal about city dwelling, a guy, even on my street, can take a nap, wake up at 5:30 on a Sunday afternoon, and have a parade going on outside their window. Yup. Sleep. Wake. Rub eyes. Boom! Instant parade!
I guess it can be more accurately termed a religious procession. It had all the hallmarks of a religious procession anyway: flowers, crosses, singing, Virgin Marys, and little girls dressed all Jon Benet in their crazy white dresses from stores like Bebe Elegante. That's a freakin' procession.
Look out! Parade!
For some reason I got it into my head that this was all very Filipino. I was seriously convinced of this. The participants were Asian, but that's not much to go on. I haven't any clue where there might be a Filipino enclave in Chicago, but my anthropology training has taught me to look at signs and come to startlingly useless conclusions like "That looks kinda Tagalog-ish." Turns out that's exactly what it was. Go figure.
The procession, I believe, was for Flores de Mayo, a month-long celebration of the Virgin Mary. All through May people bring flowers to the altar of the Big V. It's just a nice thing to do and I presume it has been going on right under my nose for weeks. The culmination of the festival, the Santa Cruzan, is what randomly marched by my apartment. There are various accounts of the origins of the Santa Cruzan. One has to do with early festivals brought to the Philippines by conquistadors, another with a vision a monk had about the Virgin Mary, and a third dates back to events in fourth century Rome:
The highlight of the celebration is the Santa Cruzan, the procession on the last day of the festival in honor of Reyna Helena. In the year 326 A.D. she and her son left
It is more a parade than a religious procession. Instead of icons or images, beautiful young women (or gays) with appropriate theatrical costumes, portray biblical and historical characters. Almost all sagalas, the persons in the parade, symbolize queens from the past! Each sagala is dressed beautiful and is looking as the 'real' Reyna (Queen)!
This last attribution is as good as any since there were clearly a number of different Reynas represented in my Insta-Parade. They were older girls, late teens I guess, all prettied up in white with flowers and escorted as shown below.
The Procession of Reynas...or so the Internet says
Icons, Flowers, it had it all.
I didn't follow the procession so I don't know where it ended up. There is a Church a few blocks away which seems to a person like me (i.e., one totally ignorant in the ways of Christianity) as a sensible place to wrap up a religious mystery march like this one. But really, I have no clue. I do know this, however, like any self-respecting "in-the-name-of-the-Lord" event, it comes with merch. Presenting the Flores de Mayo Barbie: