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¡Viva Puebla! Celebrating the 2010 Bicentennial

Puebla’s city hall is decked out for the bicentennial.Mexico commemorates the 200th anniversary of its fight for independence from Spain tomorrow and Thursday, giving everyone cause to remember and reflect upon important moments in the nation’s history. The defining moment — or at least the most celebrated one today — seems to be when Father Miguel Hidalgo, a Catholic priest, rang the church bells in Dolores, Guanajuato, just before midnight on September 15, 1810, and asked the people who gathered around whether they were ready and willing to revolt. Their answer, we now know, was affirmative.

These days, Hidalgo’s legendary cry for independence, called el grito, is re-enacted every year by the president and other top officials in town squares all over Mexico. For the bicentennial, President Felipe Calderón is scheduled to do so twice, first in the zócalo of Mexico City on Wednesday night and again in the town square of Dolores Hidalgo at 7am on Thursday, Milenio newspaper reported.

City-Sponsored Events

In Puebla, el grito is usually delivered by the governor, with the mayor present, from the balcony of the Palacio Municipal. According to TodoPuebla.com, this year’s bicentennial celebration begins in the zócalo at 3:30pm Wednesday and features all sorts of entertainment, including performances by the city’s symphonic band, mariachis, folkloric dancers, and the Puebla Legendaria theater troupe. El grito happens sometime after 10pm and is followed by a rendition of the national anthem and a spectacular fireworks display in the sky above the Cathedral. Admission is free. Expect a crowd armed with silly string and eggs. Bring rain gear.

In Cholula, the 2010 festivities get under way at 6pm in the zócalo of San Pedro. The program includes music and folkloric dancers, as well as the crowning of the city’s bicentennial princess and queen. At 10:45pm, the Declaration of Independence will be read. Mayor David Cuautli Jiménez will give el grito at 11:50pm. Admission is free. Parking could be tricky, given that the city’s annual festival is still going on downtown. Bring rain gear.

Noches Mexicanas

For revelers who’d prefer to mark the occasion indoors, many restaurants, hotels, and other establishments are hosting noches mexicanas. For a fixed price, they offer music, food, door prizes, and more. Most require reservations in advance. A few options:

La Galería Arte & Vino (Alta Vista Plaza, Calzada Zavaleta #130) features entertainment by the Folkloric Ballet of Puebla, a three-course meal, a beverage, and a raffle ticket for MX$250. 9pm.

Marriott Real de Puebla (Av. Hermanos Serdán #807) offers a welcome margarita, mariachi music, appetizers, and a buffet of typical Mexican fare for MX$575 ($230 for kids). They also promise to broadcast el grito live on large-screen TVs. 8pm.

Mi Viejo Pueblito (2 Sur #112, Los Portales) downtown will serve up a three-course meal (appetizer, soup, and entrée), accompanied by live music and a lottery. Babysitting services provided for adults who prefer to dine without little ones. MX$180-330.

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