Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Characters of Carnival, important guardians of the festival's legacy

Characters of Carnival, at the Main Parade in 2019

Pedro Gómez Cuenca, 'Charlot', was the example to follow of more than twenty icons who walk the streets of Santa Cruz every year to bring a smile to the people

The late Pedro Gómez Cuenca, 'El Charlot de Tenerife' (Charlie Chaplin), was the first character of the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife to be officially recognized. From that moment on, a series of characters began to emerge who tried their luck to see if their character worked, a test that has made many of them part of the history of carnival.

Miss Piggy at Carnival 1995
Charlot, Harpo Marx, La Lecherita (The Milkmaid), Miss Piggy, Cantinflas, Doña Croqueta and Don Ciruelo, Chiquito de la Calzada, El Cura del Carnaval, J.R., Popeye, Fidel Castro, Michael Jackson, El Caballero de la Palmatoria or El Sheriff are unmistakable symbols and essential elements of the festival of International Tourist Interest and have managed to write their name in capital letters in the hearts of all the chicharreros, contributing to making the Santa Cruz Carnival as we know it today. Over time, new characters have emerged that are beginning to consolidate themselves in the party and that have popularized names such as Robocop, Jack Sparrow, M.A., El Sombrero Loco, La Azafata - who comes from Santiago del Teide -, Los Nazis, El Cuadro, Half Boyfriend-Half Girlfriend or Las Celias.

Undoubtedly, all of them, from the oldest to the newest, receive the affection of the people of Santa Cruz every year, something that is essential for them and that is what keeps them going year after year walking the streets of Santa Cruz. Seeing a smile on people's faces is the only goal they pursue, and that is precisely what makes them make the sacrifice of leaving their family and friends aside for a few months to dedicate themselves body and soul to the most important party of the Canary Islands. In fact, this last year of hiatus due to COVID-19 they describe as a period of time in which they have been "disorientated".

The Characters of the Carnival have great importance for the chicharreros and, furthermore, in the words of the president of the association that groups them - the person who hides behind Harpo Marx -  "We are recognized as people who have been going out in the Carnival events for many years, and we always go without receiving any remuneration”. However, he adds that "there were times when we were given more importance and there have been others, like the current time, in which we have gone into the background because the groups are the ones who put on the show in the street.

The institutions should have an important role in the conservation of these carnival emblems. However, as they say, on many occasions "it seems that, instead of helping, we're a bother". For that reason, and to guarantee the future of the Carnival characters - who are becoming fewer and fewer due to age - the Asociación de los Personajes del Carnaval was created three years ago, which seeks to encourage people to find a character with whom they identify and continue with it for several years so that their legacy is not lost, a path that has helped Carnival grow and that has made their names part of the history of Santa Cruz.