Gracias de Dios is the center of the land of the Lenca, the largest indigenous group in Honduras. Their most revered leader was Chief Lempira who, in the 1500s, managed to hold off invading Spanish forces. Though Lempira was ultimately killed by the conquistadors, he is celebrated every July 20 on what’s known as Lempira Day. The normally sleepy town of Gracias hosts the biggest celebration of them all with a three-hour Lempira Day Parade, air force fly over and a fireworks display.
Here’s a photo essay of highlights from the 2011 Lempira Day Parade in Gracias including kids dressed up as modern villagers, ancient Lencans and Spanish conquistadors, beauty queens decked out in handmade dresses decorated with beans, seeds and corn kernels depicting Chief Lempira’s face, farm life and jungle scenes and, of course, proud members of the military.
For more about Lempira Day and other reasons to visit, check out our newspaper feature about Gracias for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Read more about travel in Honduras