National Holiday and the Debrecen Flower Parade

August 20th is a National Holiday commemorating Stephen I. who ruled Hungary from 1000 until his death in 1038. When I was growing up in Debrecen this holiday was called Constitution Day, now it is again St. Stephen’s Day. It is also the day of the “new bread”, the first bake from the virgin harvest and in Debrecen, this is the day of the famous Flower Parade.

Reformed Great Church float with the building behind.

Reformed Great Church float with the building behind.

Exactly 50 years ago in 1966 the Socialist leadership of the city decided to “spice up” Constitution Day festivities with a flower parade on Vöröshadsereg Street (today Piac Street). The idea was to have a couple of trucks carrying flower arrangements representing local companies and regional specialties. I was a teenager at that time and all this was very exciting.

Debrecen Flower Parade in 1973.

Debrecen Flower Parade in 1973.

Today the Debrecen Flower Parade is an enormous extravaganza. Dozens of gigantic flower arrangements depicting fairy tales, legends and other stories roll along the streets accompanied by marching troupes, dancers and musicians. On several stages people can watch hundreds of performers and at night the giant street party culminates in fireworks.

Debrecen University float.

Debrecen University float.

From the website of the event I learned that in 50 years the festival has featured over 500 flower floats and more than 1,000 Hungarian and foreign troupes. Millions of flowers were used and tens of thousands of staff and volunteers participated. The festivals is so popular that you must book tickets in advance to get a seat on the grandstands erected along the route.

Socialist Cuba theme from the 1970s.

Socialist Cuba theme from the 1970s.

The route hasn’t changed much. It starts at Petőfi Square, next to the railway station, passes by the Great Calvinist Church (Nagytemplom) ending in the Stadium at the Great Forest (Nagyerdei Stadion).

Local artist Sándor Pikó designed several award winning floats.

Local artist Sándor Pikó designed several award winning floats.

For years Sándor Pikó, a multifaceted and celebrated Debrecen artist, painter, sculptor and musician designed the most imaginative floats of this parade. Many of his creations won awards and his vision shaped the entire carnival. Pikó and I went to the same High School in Debrecen, the Tóth Árpád Gimnázium and I still have fine memories of his one-time rock band, the Lux…. Thank you, Sanyi!

György Lázár

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One Comment

  1. Dr. Habil Fodor András says:

    You were again the REAL LÁZÁR GYURI.
    Whom we, copatriots of yours, really love.
    Thank you for this post.
    Keep the track, please.

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