Thousands throng streets for Portugal’s biggest carnival parade 

|     Jethro Soutar     |


TORRES VEDRAS, Portugal (Xinhua) – Thousands of revellers thronged the streets of Torres Vedras, a town 50 km north of Lisbon, to celebrate Portugal’s biggest carnival parade on Sunday.

This year’s theme was ‘The Sea and Oceans’, chosen by the Royal Fraternity of Torres Carnival, an organizing group of the carnival.

“It’s our responsibility to preserve to the maximum the traditions that make this the most Portuguese of all Portugal’s carnivals,” said Antonio Miranda, chancellor of the fraternity.

Besides picking the theme, the fraternity selects the carnival king and queen. Miranda had served as the king for 10 years before passing the mantle to his son.

Once the theme is chosen, local groups are invited to submit ideas for costumes and designs for floats.

Revellers dressed in colorful costumes participate in the carnival parade in Torres Vedras, about 50 kilometres north of Portuguese capital Lisbon. – XINHUA

Helder Silva was part of the Gravity Balance design team whose concepts were chosen for four of the eight carnival floats.

“The strength of the Torres Vedras carnival has always been its satirical humour… the way it pokes fun at politicians and social issues of the day,” he said.

“The king and the queen were very good this year. Their float was brilliantly conceived,” said Ana, also from Lisbon. “But the best float was surely Marcelo the Octopus!”

The float depicted Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the president of Portugal, as a cross between God of the Sea Neptune and an octopus, an allusion to his tireless involvement in numerous causes.

“The floats were very good this year,” said Teresa, also from Lisbon. She was attending with an Italian friend, Guiseppe, and they were dressed as a mermaid and a sailor respectively.

“Of the parade costumes, I thought the jellyfish were particularly good,” she said.

Ricardo was one of those jellyfish. He wore an umbrella for a headdress with steamers dangling down in front of his face. This was his first Torres Vedras carnival and he was experiencing it as a participant in the Alforrecas Gradilenses group – the Jellyfish from Gradil.

“I was invited to join the group and it’s been great fun,” he said. “We paraded all last night and have already done several circuits today, so it’s tiring, but totally worth it.”

Maria, from the nearby town of Alenquer, no longer dresses up. “I’m too old for that now,” she said, “but I still come every year because I love the atmosphere.”