Disney’s '¡Viva Navidad!' And The Importance Of Representation
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Disney’s '¡Viva Navidad!' And The Importance Of Representation

The holiday season at the Disneyland Resort means the welcoming of the beloved parade ¡Viva Navidad! which exemplifies the importance of representation.

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Disney’s '¡Viva Navidad!' And The Importance Of Representation
Marcos Lozano via Facebook

As someone who has grown up with Disney movies and lived their whole life down the street from the “Happiest Place On Earth,” much of what the company produces and curates has been part of my childhood and continues to be an inspiration to this day. I grew up on the dream that one day there was going to be a Mexican Disney princess to whom I could look up to, not understanding at such a young age that I was looking for cultural representation, a topic which still persists even now. Disney/Pixar’s "Coco," based on Mexican traditions and Dia De Los Muertos, proved on a global scale how moving and monumental this type of representation can be.

But even in smaller ways, Disney is proving that celebrating cultural diversity is incredibly important and nothing speaks to that more than the inspiring stories surrounding Disney’s "¡Viva Navidad!"

Four years ago, the Disney company introduced to their California Adventure Park an exciting new parade for the holiday season titled "¡Viva Navidad!." Centered around the “The Three Caballeros” from the film of the same name starring Donald Duck, Panchito, and Jose Carioca, the street celebration shares with guests the beautiful ways in which different cultures celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. The parade showcases cultural music and dances from both Mexico and Brazil, the countries of origin for Panchito and Jose, respectively. The mixture of Mariachi, folklórico dancers, Samba musicians, carnaval dancers, and Disney magic makes the show a sight to behold and is infectious with its music and its charm.

Relámpago del Cielo Grupo Folklórico is a dance school and company based in Santa Ana, California who foster the new generation of folkloristas, continuously following their motto to remain true to their roots in both Mexican culture and dance. Their students, ranging from four years old to adults, learn the técnica needed to execute dances from varying regions of Mexico. Their performing company is a group of incredible artists who perform all over the state, including in the "¡Viva Navidad!" parade in California Adventure.

In the years since the parade was first performed, many stories have been shared by guests who come to the park every year to witness this incredible combination of culture, music, and celebration. This holiday season, the Folklorico dancers are back, with their red Jaliscos, their charros, and their incredible talent. And waiting for them along the parade route are a few fans who have taken it upon themselves to dress up like their favorite 'characters' who have inspired them through dance.

These two young girls saw the parade for the first time when visiting the park a week prior. It was love at first sight and after seeing the dancers perform, they wanted to look just like them. In one week, this incredible mother made these astonishing replicas, braids and all, and they returned once again to show their inspirations just how excited they were to be one of them.

The dancers found themselves another fan along the parade route as little Riley was admired by performers and cast members alike for her adorable costume inspired by the Relámpago del Cielo dancers in the "¡Viva Navidad!" parade. As this mother shares in her post, “[Riley] really felt like she was part of the show” and was almost moved to tears by the joy her daughter experienced.

The most moving part about these inspired young people seeing themselves in something as simple as a Disneyland parade is the impact it has on them. Instead of choosing to dress like a Disney princess or a Marvel superhero, all costumes that are seen on a daily in the parks, they have chosen to emulate these Mexican dancers who, through this incredible opportunity, are able to share their joy for the art that they are most passionate about.

The reason I remain grateful for this holiday celebration is because it assures individuals that they are seen and inspires them to become dancers and musicians and to join in celebrating the diversity we see around us every day. These folkloristas are inspiring young girls to do incredible things, and it is the young girl in me that smiles knowing that they are changing the world, one zapateado at a time.

"¡Viva Navidad!" continues through January 7th in Paradise Gardens at Disney’s California Adventure Park.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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