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ON A MEXICO CITY subway, soldiers in historic costumes head to an annual military parade celebrating Mexico¹s Independence Day.

Each Sept. 16 (and the night before) the country celebrates the 1810 uprising that eventually freed Mexico from Spain¹s centuries-long colonial stranglehold. It¹s fiesta time with parades, fireworks, speeches, dances and other civic celebrations — and the red, white and green Mexican flag fluttering everywhere.

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a parish priest and underground insurrection leader, touched off the fight for independence in the village of Dolores, in Guanajuato state. Ringing the church bell, he called for villagers to rise up against Spain. That cry — known as “El Grito de Dolores” — is re-enacted in Independence Day celebrations.

So if you¹re in Mexico on Sept. 15 or 16, be ready for a countrywide celebration and perhaps soldiers wearing costumes in unlikely places, such as the subway.

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Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at