San Pedro Town ushered in the 40-day Lenten Season in grand style with the annual Carnaval festivities. Under the theme “Ritmo, Color y Cancion, Que viva nuestra Tradicion (Rhythm, Color and Music, Long live our traditions)”, this year’s celebration was full of laughter and joy as the island reveled in five days of fun activities. Both residents and visitors alike enjoyed the traditional street painting and comparsas (dance group) presentation, as well as a live concert from Belize’s Sweet Pain Band.
The festivities kicked off on Friday, February 13th with a block party in Central Park. The family event saw performances from Miss San Pedro 2014/2015 Michelle Nuñez, Yaka’s Elite Dancers, Guillermo and Neslen Rivero, Rompe Raja and the Ballet Folklorico de Bacalar.
At the event Mayor Daniel Guerrero took the opportunity to welcome everyone to the carnaval celebrations and reiterate the significant of the event to the community. “The San Pedro Town Council will always do its best to keep the San Pedro Carnaval alive and uplift the tradition to new heights. Carnaval is a festivity here in San Pedro that I would like to see get bigger and better so as to become a tourist attraction. But I do encourage people to play carnaval in a healthy fashion, be respectful to others. Let us keep carnaval alive in San Pedro, it is part of our culture and tradition,” said Guerrero.
Several photographs of past Carnaval celebrations were also on display at the event. In his closing remarks, Councilor Guillermo “Mito” Paz took the time to explain how carnaval commenced in the island. “The tradition started during the Caste War when Mexican migrates settled in Ambergris Caye. During the first celebrations, boys would paint girls primarily with talcum powder, flour, blue dye and soot (black powdery substance left behind by burnt material). The comparsas tradition started when the men would dress as women and parade the streets singing sarcastic lyrics. Today Carnaval has evolved to include painting with water paints and choreographed comparsas presentations, where members are dressed in elaborate costumes,” said Paz.
The celebration continued on Saturday, February 14th with the second annual Masquerade Ball. Held at the Caprice Bar and Grill, the Masquerade Ball is hosted by the San Pedro Cultural Committee in collaboration with the San Pedro Town Council, The San Pedro House of Culture, The San Pedro Holiday Hotel and Caprice Bar and Grill. It seeks to revive the “Fiesta de Disfraz/bando” that was last hosted in 1942. Masked party goers enjoyed cold drinks and cocktails while dancing the night away.
The last events were the three days of painting and the comparsas presentation from Sunday, February 15th to Tuesday, February 17th. From 4PM to 10PM children and adults took to the streets painting one another in colorful hues of water paint. During this time, traffic access on Barrier Reef Drive and a portion of Pescador Drive was closed. Those not wanting to participate in the painting were encouraged to avoid these areas.
But the highlight of the event had to the comparsas presentation.
Three groups participated this year: The San Pedro AIDS Commission, Flora Ancona’s Comparsa and the Cholo’s Barbies.
The groups performed different routines each of the three days. Judges were tasked with the scoring of each of the group’s performance.
Flora Ancona’s comparsa’s performances ranged from a “50’s” routine on Sunday, Caballito de Palo routine on Monday and a classic carnival routine on Tuesday. The San Pedro AIDS Commission performances included a “Hippie” routine on Sunday, Caballito de Palo routine on Monday and a children’s party piñata routine on Tuesday. The very manly Cholo’s Barbies amazed the crowd each day with hilarious parody routines to some of today’s top hit songs.
All three teams performed beautifully but in the end, there had to be one winner. Taking the coveted first place sport was The San Pedro AIDS Commission, while Flora Ancona’s Comparsas took second place and the Cholo’s Barbies settled for third.
The celebrations officially came to a close on Wednesday, February 18th with the traditional burning of Don Juan Carnaval. The San Pedro Town Council and the San Pedro Cultural Committee would like to thank everyone that help make the 2015 Carnaval a huge success. Que viva el Carnaval de San Pedro!