GUATEMALA CITY – Thousands of motorcyclists in the Caravan of the Fox, considered the largest religious pilgrimage on the planet, set out from Guatemala City on their way to Esquipulas where they will venerate the Black Christ, an image of Christ Crucified sculptured by the Portuguese Quirio Cataño in 1595.
The starting signal for the 57th edition of this motorized procession covering 224 kilometers (139 miles) was given by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, accompanied by the mayor of the capital city, Alvaro Arzu, at 7:40 am.
“Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines,” the president said, the motors roared and the flag waved that marked the start of the pilgrimage, which goes back to 1961.
The “foxes” – from Central America, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Panama and the United States – are led by Edy Villadeleon, the “Main Fox” and organizer of the event, who urged respect for safety regulations on the road and the devotion that is the essence of this occasion.
More than a thousand police look out for the motorcyclists’ safety in this caravan, whose history goes back to Feb. 4, 1961, when Ruben Villadeleon Porras made the first pilgrimage to Esquipulas on a motorcycle, accompanied by five friends.
That was the start of the Caravan of the Fox – Ruben was known as The Fox and his son Edy proudly continues the motorized tradition, which ends with the traditional blessing of the church bestowed by Msgr. Edwin Garcia.
In the 57th edition of this devout and cultural motorcade, declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Nation in 2011, some 20,000 people took part, according to preliminary estimates of the National Police Traffic Department.