Mexicans began celebrating the 202nd anniversary of independence from Spain late on Saturday night.
The “fiesta patria” (patriotic holiday) kicked off at precisely 11:00 p.m. local time on Saturday, when President Felipe Calderon appeared on the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City and recited the traditional Cry of Independence or “Grito,” which ends with shouts of “Viva Mexico” repeated three times.
Then the crowd of thousands gathered below in the capital’s main square, Zocalo, joined the president in singing the national anthem. The festivities continued with a massive fireworks display.
Mexico’s “Dia de la Indepencia” commemorates Miguel Hidalgo’s impassioned cry for rebellion against Spain, given in the town of Dolores on September 16, 1810.
Sunday will be marked by a nationwide fiesta featuring parades, marching bands and feasting in cities and towns across Mexico. Musical performances on the vast stage erected in the Zocalo began earlier on Saturday.
More than 23,000 police have been mobilized to provide security in the sprawling capital district, including 2,300 just at the Zocalo. Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport will be closed to commercial traffic for a few hours on Sunday while a celebratory aerial show is performed.