The Christmas trucks are part of an Iquiquenian tradition created during the 50’s by the post office workers. They prepared and ornamented a truck with Christmas motifs, a Santa Claus character, and a group of musicians who cheered and brighten the streets up on their way around the city. As years passed, the fishing industries copied this tradition improving the trucks with more ostentatious ornaments. Nowadays, workers from different companies and organizations prepare their own trucks, music bands, and costumes. Sweets are thrown from the truck while children wave and run after it, picking up the sweets.
Among all the bad and good things that surprise visitors, our festive spirit stands out. In Iquique, everything happens out in the streets. It is like the laughter, the singing, and the dancing cannot be kept inside the house. It must be thrown out beyond the imprecise boundary between the public and the private. That seems to be one of the many marks of our identity.
The street is, for the Iquiquenian (a local from Iquique), the scenario in which social life is better expressed. The dimensions of our collective character are interwoven out in the street. Our living-rooms are not enough and being kept inside the house is something we do not conceive. That is why we are “thrown” outside our homes at an early age, to meander around hoisting a flag of independence. Staying home, behind the little wooden apple-crate fence was not possible. It seems that being an Iquiquenian is not given by a birth or a baptism certificate, but by being outside where the wooden sidewalks were built, where the trash was placed, and in “Punta Negra,” “El Colorado” or “Bellavista” beaches.
The streets become, then, the scenario for carnivals, burials, processions, political rallies in the 60’s; today’s marches supporting a candidate; the same marches celebrating “Deportes Iquique” (how great we were!). Therefore, the cheerful Christmas, from this other side of the ocean, was not enough.
2007 Cristian Sanhueza’s documentary “Iquiquenian Christmas” (“Navidad a la Iquiqueña”) revives the particular way to await Santa Claus. A ritual organized by the post office workers that ends in a cultural activity that becomes part of the identity of the city. The post office workers recall how, during their spare time, they would gather at “El Democrático” bar to weave the dreams that would go round their homes in the shape of Christmas trucks.
All this is a type of Iquiquenian piece of history told from the joyfulness of a dance; from the sweets-demanding children; from the costume-wearing men who try to revive the almost lost carnival tradition. By watching these scenes one can understand the reason why music cannot be played at a low volume.