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Paris Parade Celebrates Bastille Day With Mexican Birds, Anti-Terror Troops, Ebola Workers

France celebrated its biggest holiday, Bastille Day, on Tuesday, commemorating the 1789 storming of the Bastille prison, which symbolized French people's frustration with a tyrannical monarchy.

The French enjoy Bastille Day with parades and parties, much like Americans celebrate Independence Day. This year, however, the official Bastille Day Parade, or Défilé du 14-Juillet, featured some unusual elements.

Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto and his wife were guests of honor, though the daring escape of drug lord "El Chapo" cast a pall over the visit. FranceTV reported that 156 Mexican soldiers walked in the parade, some displaying large birds of prey.

A détachement Ebola joined the procession, made up of 87 medics who fought Ebola in Africa.

France's elite anti-terror squads walked for the first time, in recognition of their work combatting terrorist attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

“We are people who remain in the shadows and like to keep it that way, but given the events of January and the praise, we are happy to make a slight exception,” a colonel in the Research and Intervention Brigade told Europe 1. France24 reported that the soldiers wore sunglasses to hide their faces, and the media were instructed to not broadcast closeups.

French officials told France24 they set up an "experimental device" to neutralize drones that might threaten the day. It's not clear whether they used it.

Later Tuesday, Parisians flocked to the Eiffel Tower for some traditional fireworks.

  • Mexican soldiers display birds of prey as they walk down the Champs-Elysees avenue during Bastille Day parade Tuesday, July 1
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Mexican soldiers display birds of prey as they walk down the Champs-Elysees avenue during Bastille Day parade Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
  • France is celebrating Bastille Day with a display of fighter jets and with anti-terrorist forces marching in the yearly parad
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    France is celebrating Bastille Day with a display of fighter jets and with anti-terrorist forces marching in the yearly parade in Paris for the first time as the country's leadership tries to show its muscle against extremists. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
  • Light armed vehicles drive down the Champs-Elysees. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Light armed vehicles drive down the Champs-Elysees. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
  • Mounted Republican Guards ride down the Champs-Elysees.  (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Mounted Republican Guards ride down the Champs-Elysees. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
  • French tanks of the Tirailleur Battalion drive down the Champs-Elysees. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    French tanks of the Tirailleur Battalion drive down the Champs-Elysees. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
  • French Infantry troops walk down the Champs-Elysees.  (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    French Infantry troops walk down the Champs-Elysees. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
  • Mexican troops walk down the Champs-Elysees. Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto is the guest of honor at this year's event
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Mexican troops walk down the Champs-Elysees. Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto is the guest of honor at this year's event marking France's biggest holiday. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
  • Mexican first lady Angelica Rivera, center, looks at the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Mexican first lady Angelica Rivera, center, looks at the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
  • Jets for the Patrouille de France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Jets for the Patrouille de France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
  • French President Francois Hollande, right, shakes hands with spectators after the Bastille Day parade. (Pascal Rossignol, Poo
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    French President Francois Hollande, right, shakes hands with spectators after the Bastille Day parade. (Pascal Rossignol, Pool via AP)
  • Fireworks light skies above the Eiffel Tower  (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
    DOMINIQUE FAGET via Getty Images
    Fireworks light skies above the Eiffel Tower (DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
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