Memory has stretch marks. Although many would like to throw 2020 in the scrap metal of oblivion, truth is, we will remember it. We will recall it as well as those who remembered the year of the plague of 1800 “when people walked down the street, suddenly sneezed, and remained where they had fallen,” as the city chronicler Cornelio López Espinosa (RIP) wrote.
The reality is that there will be no Convocation of Locos this year either. But to guarantee that it does not go unnoticed, traditionalists, the parish priest of San Antonio, and the Directorate of Culture and Traditions, have prepared an alternative program. The image of St Anthony of Padua will be carried, but not accompanied by thousands of Locos dressed in costumes, but by a group of perhaps a dozen. This way, the tradition will continue. But do you know how it all started?
The orchard keepers: the beginning of Los Locos
In the past, San Miguel was surrounded by orchards, especially in the park area. The fruits harvested were pears, apples, plums and other seasonal fruits. Every year when harvest time came, the owners of these orchards opened the doors to their workers—the fruit pickers and their families—could eat as much as they wanted. Then a religious celebration would also held in the churches where some people dressed up as gardeners—wearing overalls, boots, a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat—danced in honor of San Pascual Bailón. The general public was attracted by these dances and many began to gather annually to witness the ceremony.
When the workers saw that there was no space to dance, they decided to put on masks to scare the onlookers away and recover the space for their ritual. They also carried animals such as skunks, ferrets, pelicans, armadillos, and so on. That is why people started calling them locos—crazy. The tradition dates back to almost 150 years, but the Convocation of Locos as we know it now, began less than fifty years ago.
From the original orchard keepers (Los Locos) in the city, other groups arose. They all now gather together to dance in all the religious festivities. They pay tribute to San Pascual Bailón on the Sunday closest to June 13, the date on which San Antonio de Padua is celebrated as well. In the parish of San Antonio there was previously an image of San Pascual Bailón; now kept in the church of San Juan de Dios.