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The Flower Bearers’ Parade - Medellin, Colombia

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Posted by Catalina on 2013-08-09
"When the “silleteros” pass by, Antioquia passes by with them". It is the expression used when we frequently see these paisas carrying their silletas on their shoulders, weighing up to 70 kilograms, a tradition transmitted from one generation to another, and they feel proud to be there showing the greatness of being an "antioqueño through and thorugh".
 
All this fantasy began in 1957, when Mr. Arturo Uribe Arango invited a group of “silleteros” from Santa Elena to Medellín with the purpose of participating in a parade that would show the beauty of flowers and entertain the community. Such task was already done silently by the “silleteros” when they came to the city of the eternal spring to sell flowers to people or decorate the altars of churches.
 
The invitation was accepted by 40 “silleteros” who reunited in El Parque de Bolívar [Bolivar Park], with such good welcome, that a group of citizens proposed that those country-people could prepare a more organized and attractive parade through the main roads of the “Beautiful Villa”; this event gave birth to what we now know as the Flower Bearers Parade [Desfile de Silleteros].
 
In 1958, the parade achieves greater media coverage, and it was attended by 100 participants. The route started at Pablo Tobón Uribe’s Theatre, it went through La Playa Avenue and crossed Junín Avenue to arrive at its final destination El Parque Bolívar [Bolivar Park].
 
For a better comfort, not only for those moving the merchandise but also for those wanting to buy it, the country-people designed the “silletas”, made out of wood with a back and two grips that allow to hang them on the shoulders, as an element that facilitated loading large quantities of flowers with a lower physical debilitation; such object had been already used to transport people through Antioquia’s steep mountains during the colonial period.
 
The use of the “silleta” was generalized, and with it, the word “silletero” was assigned to those people who devoted their lives to sell flowers in the rocky streets of Medellín at the beginning of the 20th century.

Nowadays, they do not sell flowers in their “silletas”, instead, they do so in fixed places where they offer the most complete variety of carnations, gladiolus, sunflowers, roses, cartridges, lilies, orchids, pompons and pinocchios; also they are human beings who are happy with what they do; they love and live their national land.
 
Retrieved from El Colombiano Newspaper.
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