San Pedro Carnaval 2006

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 16, No. 9            March 1, 2006

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This year’s winning comparsa travelled the streets of San Pedro, entertaining residents from their homes, and other spectators lining the streets.

People of all ages happily joined in the tradition of painting egging and dancing that symbolizes Carnaval in San Pedro.

Some tourists happily join in the painting tradition with the children of San Pedro.

Don Juan Carnaval is propped on his chair, before his ceremonial burning on Wednesday.

EL Gran Carnaval de San Pedro is a unique tradition to this island and one that has been passed down from generation to generation. Although, it seems that with time, some of these wonderful customs are slowly disappearing; many people are still striving to keep our traditions alive. Carnaval is celebrated annually and is observed during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday (Miercoles de Senisa) and the Lenten Season. It is a pagan celebration during which time people can indulge in bodily pleasures that they will have to give up during lent. Carnaval was basically divided into two activities - comparsas (street dancing) and painting.

   San Pedro’s Carnaval is similar to the New Orleans Mardi Gras (in meaning, not size). The local government of San Pedro Town usually organizes a week of fun events for visitors and locals called “El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro”. During the event the centre of the town throngs with street dancers known as comparsas. Prizes are handed out to the best - and invariably the male comparsa are the victors. This may be testament to their dance talents, but amusement value is also high on the list, as they are all local dignitaries dressed up in drag. Children from all ages also participate in carnaval. The community leaders annually stress that the season should be celebrated in a respectful and peaceful manner.

   On the last day of Carnaval painters flood the street to paint each other and this year was no different. Hundreds of children and grown ups flocked the streets to participate in this years events. This tradition involves using a mixture of water paint and water or raw eggs, the goal being to paint as many people as you can. Fair warnings are usually given prior to the carnival saying that if you don’t want to be painted stay in your home.

   On the last day of the carnaval the comparsa winners are announced. This year, taking home first prize was Flora’s Posse and second was the infamous “Barbies”. On Wednesday, Don Juan Carnaval was burned. The San Pedro Town Council would like to thank the following businesses for contributing to the Carnaval Celebrations: Tropic Air, Tackle Box, Amigos del Mar, Caye Management, Seaduced by Belize, Blue Water Grill, Wally’s Electrical Supply, Mash Co., Graniel’s Cabinet Shop, Pete’s Enterprises, Caribeña Ltd. and the Holiday Hotel.

   Hundreds enjoyed Carnaval tradition that keeps our culture alive and unique. Long live the Carnaval in San Pedro and the people who work tirelessly to keep the tradition alive.
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