While not widely known to outsiders, with more than 400 costumed participants and about 1000 spectators, South Philly’s Carnaval de Puebla celebration in the Pennsport is the largest such celebration of this 150-year-old tradition outside of Mexico.
For the ninth consecutive year, Poblanos (people from the Mexican city of Puebla) came from South Jersey, Washington D.C. and New York to celebrate.
The tradition of the Carnval de Puebla began in 1868 and celebrates the Battle of Cinco de Mayo where Mexican forces defeated the French.
The colorful costumes worn by participants represent the different sides in the battle: the Zapadores, Turcos, Suavos of the invading forces, and the Indios and Zacapoaxtlas from Mexican side.
All of the costumes are handmade and cost well over $1,000.
In Mexico, they shoot black powder from the guns carried during the parade, but in the Philly version the arms are just decorations that are not fired.
The event is the first in a series of Cinco de Mayo festivities.