Carnaval 2006 kicked off Wednesday evening with the ceremonial Burning of the Bad Moods on a stage set up in the street in front of the Municipal Building adjacent to the Plaza de la Independencia. The elaborately decorated stage was as wide as the street.
The ceremony was preceded by a dance contest amongst a number of girls selected from the audience, the participants in which were judged by audience applause.
Yesterday afternoon was the Children’s Parade, the first of six parades in six days.
Various Jardines de Ninos (Children’s Gardens), which is what kindergartens are called here, dressed up, elaborately, in accordance with themes, such as Aladdin, Snow White,
Wizard of Oz, Tarzan, and etc., and danced down the street to the music from a huge sound system in the back of a pick up truck which preceded each group.
The adult chaperones of each group boogied right along with the kids.
I nestled into a spot behind the three deep chairs from where I had a fairly good view of the procession but as parade time neared it soon became shoulder to shoulder. I ended up pressed against a tree with barely enough room to wrest my day pack from my back to get more film and reload my camera.
As you can see in the lowest picture, even the children spectators got into the act of dressing in costumes. It was a wonderful experience to see the hundreds of children in their elaborate costumes dancing along the street and the thousands of spectators smiling, applauding and holding their children aloft so they could see the parade.
I realized during the parade that the children I had seen practicing dance routines in Celestun, while I was waiting for the bus, were practicing for Carnaval.
I have noticed here, as I noticed in Cuba, that everyone loves the children; and that the children in Merida, and their clothing, are always immaculately clean.
Tonight is the “Corso Parade: This is the first parade where the dance groups start their competition for best group. The ex-Kings and Queens and grade school kids are in the parade. Along the parade route there are 20 bands of national and international fame. The fun of Carnival begins!”, as described on the official Carnaval 2006 web site.
I will walk the three blocks to the Paseo Montejo and try to get a seat on the bleachers set up, for block after block, in the median. The Montejo is lined with Coca Cola, Pepsi, Corona, and Sol cabanas/vendor booths.
One of the next few days I will research the relationship between Carnaval and Lent and inform those of you who, like me, don’t know. During my research I’ll probably also discover what Lent is all about. Being a heathen, I’ve never Lentenized.