The denizens of Chapala are taking a break from their normal routines to engage in religious and secular activities surrounding the annual Fiestas Patronales honoring Francisco de Asís (Saint Francis of Assisi), the town’s patron saint.
The festivities run from Thursday, September 26 through Friday, October 4.
Spiritual observances begin each day with a gathering for a Mañanitas prayer service at 6 a.m., followed by a pilgrimage to the parish church for the 7 a.m. celebration of Mass. Fiesta sponsors lead the more colorful evening processions starting most days at 6 p.m., as a prelude to 7 p.m. Mass. Each one will feature a motorized float depicting a designated sacred theme.
Starting points and routes through the town’s different barrios vary from day to day, as indicated by maps posted on the Parroquia de San Francisco Chapala Facebook page. Beforehand, a miniature figure of Saint Francis will visit a church or chapel in each neighborhood for an overnight vigil.
A replica of the antique, life-size statue of San Francisco that resides permanently at the main church will be carried around town in the morning and evenings processions, scheduled at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the last day of the Fiestas. All of the floats roll out to accompany pilgrims in the final parade.
Special group blessings will take place during services on certain dates, with October 27 set aside for married couples; all types of vehicles, September 28; farm machinery and seeds, September 29; pregnant women, September 30; water, salt and oil, October 1; and domestic pets, October 2.
Cultural programs will be presented daily outside the church immediately after the evening Mass. After dark, folks will drift around the corner to Paseo Ramon Corona to dine on typical foods and treat youngsters to mechanical rides and games of chance. Each night caps off with a glittering castillo fireworks display ignited in front of the temple between 10 and 10:30 p.m.
City Hall’s Regulations Director Francisco Javier Torres reports that sponsor gremios (guilds) have accepted restricted use of cohetes, the booming skyrockets customarily shot off to herald key activities, limited to specific times between 5:30 a.m. and the final sparks of firework displays.