Friday, January 2, 2009
New Year’s Eve in our San Antonio neighborhood of San Migeul, Mexico turned out to be a lot more exciting than making a few wishes while swallowing grapes. Around 9PM a truck pulled up across the street from our house, unloading a half a dozen speakers. Salsa music was blaring in the street an hour later. I was amazed Dave, who had just gone to bed, could sleep through all this festive commotion. From our rooftop patio, we enjoyed a birdseye view of an intergenera-tional street party in full swing below, watching neighbors ages 3 to 80 dancing, laughing and (a few – mostly men) drinking. Grandpa lights sparkling firecrackers for children to throw. For one full hour before midnight, people took turns dancing in the middle of the cobblestone street, one-at-a-time spinning and swirling a masked dummy with flowing white hair, while on-lookers clapped and cheered a rhythmic “Hey-hey-hey-hey.” The more wild or erotic the dancer, the more energetic the crowd cheered. Eventually the stuffed partner would be passed to another on-looker and the new dancer would take center stage – or more accurately – center street. This energetic display continued until moments before the new year when the dummy was dowsed with karosene, strung across the street from a wire, and ignited in flames. Revelers then furiously pitched firecrackers into the burning effigy and the street exploded with others tossing M80’s into the sky. While church bells throughout the city chimmed in the New Year, Will and I watched fireworks of San Migeul from our roodtop and imagined a Mexican-style nieghborhood celebration on our street: Wes Road in Shelburne – next year.