Photo by congresochile on Flickr.
If you even only kind of love a parade, and love expressions of national pride, I hope you’ve timed your visit to Santiago, Chile for the first Sunday of a month.
Every first Sunday, since February of 2010, the collosal flag opposite Chile’s Moneda Palace is raised in a flag-raising ceremony that would impress even the most stalwart flag-ceremony derider. Starting at about 9:30 AM, the horses come out from near Club Hípico, and come up the street Ejercito Libertador, just east of La Moneda, and start to fall in with other groups of mounted, uniformed riders. Every month a different volunteer corps comes together, puts on their dress uniforms and comes out to celebrate the flag-raising. There are generally speeches which refer to recent events, very much pomp, and uniforms from all of the various groups that form the corps. Examples of corps that may participate in the eevents are the Red Cross as well as other volunteer organizations.
In August, it was the fire fighters that participated, an all-volunteer corps that covers the entire country, and with over a hundred different firehouses in Santiago alone. There were several thousand firefighters in many different hued uniforms, many of them playing instruments and about ten different fire trucks and even some firemen in hazmat gear along side the group as the bicentennial flag was raised. The flag was originally installed opposite the Moneda to commemorate the first 200 years of the republic in February, 2010, and flies most of the time. It is visible for many blocks along the Alameda, both east and west of its locations, though the best views tend to be in the spring when a warm wind blows in from the south, which waves the flag so that it is best seen to the west.
If you miss the flag raising, on any Saturday, you can whip around to the back of the palace (this all takes place on the Alameda side), and catch the changing of the guard at about 10:30 AM instead, another popular, free event.