Carnival fever takes over the country

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The Queen of Calle Abajo of Las Tablas, Daris Nicole.

The Queen of Calle Abajo of Las Tablas, Daris Nicole.

The awaited four days of water, fun and music finally have arrived and all over the country people are getting prepared for the carnivals. The beauty queens with their courtiers, the contagious rhythms, and constant call for water in the culecos (celebrations in which people get sprayed with water from cistern trucks) together with the amazing costumes and floats make these festivities a memorable experience.

One of the towns famous for throwing the best spectacle is Las Tablas in the Los Santos province. During Carnival, neighbors, friends and families split into two factions, Calle Arriba and Calle Abajo, and a friendly war starts. The entire neighborhood sings songs with double meanings in which not only the opposing Queen is playfully mocked, but also her family and friends, while parading on incredibly elaborate floats around the four main roads around the park.

This year, Calle Abajo of Las Tablas is celebrating their Emerald Anniversary and their queen, Daris Nicole Sanchez Brandao and her “Tunas de las Tunas,” will be leading the culecos from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Belisario Porras Park. The parade will start from 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. every day.

The party will continue the following Friday, March 7 with a parade around the Belisario Porras Park and on Saturday, March 8 there is going to be a “culeco” starting at 10:00 a.m. The celebrations will finish with a parade on the same day.

H.M. Elena del Pilar, Calle Arriba Las Tablas.

H.M. Elena del Pilar, Calle Arriba Las Tablas.

Calle Arriba of Las Tablas with their queen, Elena del Pilar together with her followers, will engage in a battle of songs teasing Daris Nicole and her Tuna during the nocturnal parade. They are so prepared they have even published a song book together with a CD so any visitor can get into the spirit of the celebrations.

The city of Chitre, in Herrera province, has similar ways of celebrating the carnival as well as the many towns around the area and in Los Santos province. Accommodations are difficult to find during carnival, so it is best to stay in other places such as Ocú in the Coclé province, which is a convenient location close to the Aquatic Carnival of Penonomé and the Pacific beaches.

Maria de Lourdes Gallimore, Metrocity Queen.

Maria de Lourdes Gallimore, Metrocity Queen.

Those staying in Panama City can take part in the “Carnaval MetroCity” which will take place on the Cinta Costera from Friday, January 28 to Tuesday, March 4. Friday night, things get started with the official coronation of Maria de Lourdes Gallimore as the Carnival Queen, who will be presiding over the four days of festivities with her princesses, Ana Lorena Cortés and Jennifer Gleichman. The theme for this evening is “Tropical Night.”

The next day the traditional “culecos” begin from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will repeat each day until Tuesday. Eight water trucks have been enlisted to douse the dancers in the streets in the middle of the parade route on the Coastal Strip. The parades themselves take place from Saturday through Tuesday, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily and will start from the Seafood Market. Saturday’s theme is “Tropical Panama,” Sunday’s is “Típico Day,” Monday’s is “International Day,” and Tuesday’s is “Centennial Celebration of the Canal.”

Stages will be set up for musical acts. The main stage will be located in front of the Seafood Market where shows will take place from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. The “Culecos Stage,” located in the center of the parade route, will operate from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This area will be used for dance music DJs once the parades have ended. There will also be a “Stage of Memories” at the north entrance of the parade route with shows from 3 p.m. onwards.

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