Fiesta or fiasco? Inside Argentina’s victory parade

Argentina’s World Cup winners had to ditch an open-air bus parade in Buenos Aires and instead take a helicopter ride over the millions of ecstatic fans celebrating in the streets.

Argentina may be waking up from its biggest hangover ever — at least if the number of revelers on the streets of Buenos Aires on Tuesday is anything to go by.

There is no denying that Argentina desperately wanted to bring the World Cup home. The intensity of feeling after every match during the tournament was testament to this, and the fans’ dedication to celebrating every goal scored.

The pride of the Argentines is multi-layered. Yes, it’s their third World Cup victory and that’s an achievement in itself, but it was more personal than that – in Lionel Messi they have a soccer star that now rivals the god-like Diego Maradona. How dare he not take home the only trophy he lost – they wanted it for Leo.

But this country also needed some uplifting—a chance to dream, smile, and have some fun. Argentina is facing an endless economic crisis and with inflation rising, it is getting tougher every day. The tournament was an opportunity to stop and kick back – and wow, they did.

“We have suffered a lot over the past years,” an Argentine told me. “It’s the first time we’ve ever had something to celebrate.”

Sunday’s festivities were massive – a spontaneous party in the middle of Buenos Aires, replicated across the country. But Tuesday’s celebrations overshadowed them in a big way. It was, as the country’s media say, the largest party in the country’s history.

“Today people don’t care whether they eat or not,” said one of the revelers. “If people are happy and joyful, money doesn’t matter. People are happy spending it today.”

With an estimated five million people on the streets of Buenos Aires, they got an early start – even by 8am there were dozens of people in Messi 10 jerseys, dressed up on park benches, ahead of the event.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that few people would see the parade pass by – a minibus carrying the team against an entire nation clamoring to see them. But that didn’t matter to the majority of Argentines – it was about enjoying the sun, the public holiday and the moment – the Argentine moment.

With so many people crowding around the obelisk in central Buenos Aires, it became apparent that the parade would never be able to pass through the dense crowds. Never mind, when the march changed course, people ran towards them. When the fighter jets passed, revelers rejoiced. Cheered again when the team Ditch the bus and take a helicopter To wave to the fans from afar.

The team was the reason for the celebration, but somehow it was just the spark – the holiday flame kept burning and will for a while.

This is a very proud but troubled country. Argentines are often ridiculed for claiming to be more European than their South American counterparts. But this victory over France made them proud to be from South America. It was infectious and it really brought the area together – even if it’s short, it’s a welcome one.

And like all good parties, it usually ends in chaos – the overexcited fans hopping on the team bus, the drunken Porteños and the piles of trash made that abundantly clear.

Argentina bus parade
Fans gathered at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de la Republica

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