Mazatlan's Carnival History
The modern conception of “Carnaval” is historically traced to the public street celebrations of over a century ago, which in turn were based on the purifying seasonal rituals dating to antiquity. These early celebrations featured participants adorned in colored eggshells and scented flour and ashes, which reflected a transition from the humoristic mood to that of the grotesque. This early expression of Carnaval also carried with it vestigial features of the archaic traditions, which spoke to the dictates of chaos in the world and the tearing down of social barriers. Carnaval thus marked a brief moment when the rules were relaxed and transgressions were forgiven. Merchants and dock workers took to the fields in stone throwing confrontations.
Towards the end of the Nineteenth Century, the festival took a sociopolitical turn. The most popular form of Carnaval was organized by the military and celebrated in May of each year, to commemorate the victory of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza over the French army in Puebla.
In 1898 an assembly of Mazatlan dignitaries led by a local doctor implemented the use of carriages and bicycles in the parade, and replaced the scented flour with confetti. The Mazatlan newspaper, “La Lechuza,” published the first account of the Mazatlecan Carnival.
That same year, a celebrated American beauty, Wilfrida Farme, was crowned the First Queen of the Carnival of Mazatlan, her reign supplanting the Ugly Kings and Buffoons of the grotesque era. Queen Wilfreda made her grand entrance into the city seated atop a trolley car drawn by mules, and escorted by chamberlains, ministers and an entire operatic company. Carnival 1898 also marked the first celebration of the Grand Ball of Costumes in the ballroom "Círculo Benito Juárez".