Medellín’s Silleteros Parade springs back to life to close flower fair

By Jeimmy Paola Sierra

Medellín, Colombia, Aug 22 (EFE).- Medellín’s traditional Silleteros Parade regained its soul on Sunday when dozens of vendors paraded in the Colombian city to close the annual Flower Fair.

This year there was no return to the streets for the growers, who carried traditional wooden frames on their backs adorned with flowers. The pandemic again prevented it, as it did in 2020.

However, flower vendors flocked to the capital of Antioquia to enchant the crowds in an historic edition of the event, with a soccer stadium as the scene of their reunion with spectators.

“Without an audience we are nothing,” said silletero Miguel Ángel Soto, who in the early morning left Piedras Gordas to tell the world through his flowers that “Medellín is flourishing again.”

Experiencing the applause from the crowd was, according to Soto, “a joy for us because it has been two years without being able to parade in this city, where we have the eyes of all the people.”

For the silleteros, sharing with peers and exhibiting their creations again filled the 64th edition of the parade with meaning at the Atanasio Girardot stadium in front of 15,000 spectators.

Secretary of Citizen Culture Álvaro Narváez said the change of venue took place “to build a parade with controlled capacity” and to close with a “flourish” the fair, which had 24 floats with 55 award-winning displays in eight categories.

In this particular celebration, full of color and culture, there was space for the pioneers who put on their costumes again to tell their stories and to choose the best of their gardens for their colorful arrangements.

Among them was Ana Olga Londoño, 75, who took part for the first time in 1957. This year she enjoyed another moment of the tradition, declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Nation in 2014.

“The parade is magnificent for us and the world,” she said, adding that after lockdown due to the coronavirus, “God gave us the opportunity to return to give Medellín color.”

With the stadium turned into a floral tapestry filled with music, a special moment arrived with the new Inclusion category and Juan David Gallego, 24, parading in a wheelchair.

“I brought a message of adaptation,” said the young man, who became paraplegic a year and a half ago due to an accident.

While in the hospital he designed a display adapted to fit a wheelchair, to which he gave meaning with reflections on life, time and the virus.

In the end the king of the parade was El Placer village’s Luis Felipe Londoño, winning the Artistic category and later becoming the overall winner of the 2021 edition with a 90-kilogram display of 15 varieties of flowers carrying the message: “May our path be strength, faith and love.” EFE


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