Halloween Times One Thousand


Name three things that come to mind when you think of Brazil. Is Carnaval one of them?

I got my first taste of this over-the-top celebration last weekend. On Saturday, Teresina held Corso, which is a sort of warm-up to the real Carnaval festivities that start tomorrow.

When all of us ETAs – Anna, Laura Rose, Leslie, Mike, and I – walked into the crowds at five in the afternoon, Laura Rose said, “It’s like Halloween times one thousand. ” She was right.

The first thing you notice about Corso is the costumes. Like Halloween costumes, Corso costumes run the gamut from clever (Mona Lisas) to spare (French maids) to just plain weird (grown men dressed in nothing but diapers). Unlike during Halloween, though, people of all ages and walks of life are willing to dress up for a night. I myself took part in the timeless Carnaval tradition of cross-dressing.

Corso is also similar to Halloween in that it involves lots of drinking and dancing. Our group downed cheap beer and moved to Brazilian funk and pop before the start of the main event: the parade.

Teresina set the world record for number of floats in a parade a couple years ago, so this is a serious business. Flatbed trucks are covered in fabric, streamers, and beads and filled with costumed revelers, all conforming to the same theme – Native America, say, or the Brazilian National Soccer Team. The trucks move slowly and steadily down the parade route as people weave in between them in search of friends and dance partners.

Corso Parade FloatCorso Parade Float

Later in the evening, I had stopped my weaving between parade floats to talk to some friends from UFPI when I heard a pop-pop sound. People began to run and duck behind the food stands set up on the sides of the street. We made a quick exit, walking back down the parade route and piecing together that someone had been shot in a fight. Two ambulances caught up with us as we went.

Instead of haunted houses and horror movies, we had had a real scare. Halloween times one thousand, indeed!

For full-blown Caranaval this weekend, I’ll be traveling with my friends Mike and Anna to the coastal town Parnaíba. Here’s hoping that we can enjoy the concerts, parades, and beaches without feeling unsafe!