Tens of thousands of spectators gathered Saturday to watch more than a thousand actors dance, jump and drum their way through Mexico City, in a celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a traditional holiday honoring friends and family who have passed away.
Hundreds of municipal workers led the parade. They were the ones who for weeks helped clear debris caused by the major earthquake that struck Central Mexico on September 19th.
This year's parade also remembered the 370 people who died in the earthquake, and the thousands more made homeless because of it.
"We must not forget that the country is in mourning because there are many who do not have a home," said Guadalupe Perez, whose apartment was badly damaged in a quake. "But this is a beautiful party, unique in the world."
It's the second year in a row that Mexico City has turned the expression “art imitates life” on its head. A scene from Spectre, the 2015 James Bond movie, inspired the now annual event. The film's opening sequence features Bond chasing a villain through a massive parade in Mexico City, bobbing and weaving between skeletons, floats and festival-goers. Many Hollywood movies employ CGI to create crowd scenes, but Spectre's opening sequence involved 1,500 extras. Parade organizers recycled costumes and props from the film.
That the scene was filmed in Mexico City was no accident. Before "Spectre" hit theaters, leaked emails showed that studio executives decided on Mexico City partly because of $14 million dollars worth of incentives provided by the Mexican government. The idea was that by investing in mainstream, positive exposure (Bond), Mexico City would reap economic benefits.
"The parade is part of new, multi-faceted campaign to bring tourists to Mexico during the annual Day of the Dead holiday."
For years Mexico's capitol city suffered from a reputation as a dangerous, crime-ridden place. Today, the city is having a renaissance, emerging as a cosmopolitan economic and cultural hub.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.