February 21, 2009

Carnival Nostalgia

This has got to be one of my all time favorite photos:

Carnival 1939

It is my mother-in-law, Dona Clá, and her three sisters. She's on the right. As you can see it was taken in 1939.

This one was also taken at Carnival. There isn't a date, but they look a few years older so it must be the early 1940's. Her grandfather was a pioneer in the textile industry in our city. He had one of the first and largest factories in town. They were also the first people in town to own this new fancy model of car. A photo of her father posing with it even appeared on the front page of the paper. They look so proud.

Carnival 1940's

Dona Clá tells me Carnival in her childhood was a much simpler affair. Children in costume danced and played on the streets. When they were older her family would go to a club across from the town square and watch the Carnival parades from the rooftop.

Today is so different. Everyone with money has left town and the commercial center is deserted except for a few random stragglers from the marginalized blocos whose attendees are too poor to have traveled. A couple of years ago we did walk down to the praça where the concentração for one of the oldest and biggest blocos takes place. But the scene was much less about foolish revelry than angry self-destruction. People weren't just drunk, they were high and strung out and a bit violent. We were too uncomfortable and left before the band even started.

There is a movement afoot however to move the date of Carnival in our city. The local business really suffer from being shut down for a week (Carnival officially ends on Tuesday, but no one returns until following Monday.) So our new mayor has proposed moving Carnival to May to coincide with the anniversary of the city, which is an official holiday with no official celebration. The idea is it would generate revenue because neighboring towns would come it to enjoy the parades and festivities and spend money. Carnival wouldn't be canceled in February, it would just get a second act. Personally I think it is a great idea. Carnival part II will be much better organized and attended, and who doesn't want another excuse for days off and a party!

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