The 1000 Polleras Parade

Arts & Culture

The small town became very crowded with an atmosphere of excitement and pride.

“You Can’t Get More Panamanian Than That!”

Well, at least that’s what I was told when I said I was heading to Las Tablas to see the 1000 Polleras Parade, known as the 'Desfile De Las Mill Polleras' in Spanish. 

For those of you who are new to the Panamanian culture, a 'pollera' is Panama’s national dress and is one of the most admired national costumes of the Americas.  The pollera is made up of three parts, the blouse, the skirt and the petticoat. Typically they are all handmade and embroidered with delicate patterns. No two polleras are the same. A pollera is complimented with golden jewelry, and glamorous headpieces. To own a pollera is a great honor and is often passed down through generations.

Getting Panamanian

It was early on a hot Saturday morning in January when we headed off to Los Santos province of Panama. After a pleasant four hour drive we arrived in the already busy town of Las Tablas. After finding a parking space I went to find a perfect spot to enjoy the parade. The streets were already lined with people sitting and standing, and yet there were empty benches right on the street. How strange, I thought, and set up camp on a bench. It didn’t take me long to realize why no one was sitting on the benches, which were fully exposed to the sun. (But I love the sun and was hoping to build on my tan.) I waited around two hours for the parade to begin while the small town became very crowded with an atmosphere of excitement and pride.

La pollera

The parade began at 3pm and literally thousands of beautiful women came dancing down the street in their equally beautiful polleras. The parade also had colorfully decorated floats with more polleras and their owners moving gracefully around despite the blistering heat. It is only fair to mention the gentleman were also dressed in their typical clothing, the 'montuno'. The parade lasted for hours and it was great to see such a community feel within the town. Everyone was happy and taking a lot of photos. Some of the crowd was even joining the parade to get their photos taken with many of the local celebrities taking part.

The parade

For me it was a different side of Panama. Far from the traffic and noise of the busy city, Las Tablas was alive. It was noisy with all the 'murgas' (brass bands) in the parade, the saloma singers and the crowd full of cheers and good wishes for those in the parade, I could also hear all the people calling out water and drinks, chairs and umbrellas walking up and down the street selling to the crowds. After almost five hours in the hot sun I decided to pack up and head back to the car, although the parade was far from over. In-fact the parade lasted well into the night and ended with fireworks at 10pm.

So, if that’s as Panamanian as it gets, I can handle anything this country throws at me!

This parade is hosted in this little town every year, so if you happen to be in Panama about that time of the year, don’t miss out to experience this beautiful Panamanian festival.