I happened to be in Punta Arenas at this time but had no idea of such a carnival taken place. Imagine a carnival in the middle of the winter and with freezing temperatures. It was an amazing accomplishment by the community with various private businesses, schools and cultural organizations participating. The carnival went on July 20-21, 2013 and it is held annually.
There were between 35-40,000 people attending the Carnival according to the local officials. I arrived at a park that was the starting point of the carnival. Participants waited for the start adjusting the outfits, practicing the dances and tuning the musical instruments for the great occasion.
The grand ladies paraded at the front of their social groups with gorgeous big dresses carrying flags and moving to the rhythms of their accompanying music bands.
And the scanty dressed ones…how did they manage? They were batucada dancers with fancy outfits and moving real fast and energetically. Surprisingly you could see the drops of sweat running down their faces; the fast action protected them for the cold. They received the most exclamations of excitement and received the most applauses and calls. I wonder why? And yes, I photographed them all.
Participants paraded in an assortment of interesting costumes with original designs as well as some imitating famous characters from the movies. Something for everyone to like.
The Gauchos and their horses were also representing their various clubs and of them came from others nearby towns as Porvenir and Natales. Men, women and children paraded but what amazed me where the young children that were still awake; this parade lasted more than 4 hours. One note about Punta Arenas is that it has a large street dog population and they were to be left out of the parade.
One of the groups that were over-represented was the auto clubs to the extreme that they took a large amount time, even the dogs complained at their numbers. These were mostly souped-up sports cars with fancy paint jobs, loud speakers and fancy fluorescent lights. However, there were not many motorcyclists.
And then there was a variety of participants in costumes or just plain citizens observing those marching in the parade, as well as other competing photographers searching for the best angle or warming their cameras.
A peculiar thing I notice was that Saturday the Queen of the Carnival in the float was different from the one in the Sunday. I must say that the most original outfit was the one of the penguins marching; this was the most appropriate since there are large colonies of penguins in the vicinity of Punta Arenas. And the guy with the jumping shoes was the most hilarious; he fell on various occasions but was a sport, stood up and kept going…wonder if he made it to the end.
Every great time must come to an end and say good bye with a grand finale to Saturday night with a great display of fireworks in the Avenida Costanera. The parade ended Sunday night; it was a repeat of the previous night and the time for the awards. Sadly, I did not win any, but I had a great time despite my frozen toes.