The Bicentennial in Portales Park

Approaching from the cordillera the first sign of the event ahead was the beat of a drum, soon joined by the merry sound of stringed instruments.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Macarena Rivera

Rounding the stage, Parque Portales (Portales Park) came into view with bright tissue paper flowers strung between the trees and merry groups of family or friends scattered on the grass and benches. Some sat, some stood and many danced or wandered, eager to see and hear everything the Citizen’s Day of Commemoration of the Bicentennial (Bicentenario Ciudadano y Popular) had to offer.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Macarena Rivera

There were three stages set up in the park, all spaced far enough apart so that the sound wouldn’t clash, but close enough that people were free to wander from stage to stage in search of the band they liked the best. There was certainly plenty of variety to be had, with performances by many different artists including Chico Trujillo, Legua York and Los Republicanos de la Cueca.

In addition to the three larger stages, several theatre or musical groups put on performances in other sections of the park, needing nothing more than their instruments or a couple of props and the grass beneath their feet.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Macarena Rivera

One section of the park was overtaken by stalls occupied by artisans, vendors, artists and organizations set up on either side so that people could freely wander by.

The artisans sold a number of different crafted goods, from purses to jewelry to pipes no longer than a pinky finger, while vendors sold everything from children’s toys and plastic masks to screwdrivers and saws. Several organizations also had stalls set up and handed out fliers to promote their cause.

An alternative to the government’s official celebrations, the Citizen’s Day of Commemoration of the Bicenntenial included plenty of debates and many of the plays had a political or social angle. The spectators were left with plenty to think over and take with them into the next century.

Citizen’s Day of Commemoration of the Bicentennial
Saturday, September 19, 2010
Parque Portales
Interesection of Agustinas and García Reyes, Barrio Yungay, Santiago

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