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Locations of the Carnival Celebrations in Dominican Republic

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The most popular Carnival activities are in the town of La Vega. Normally a very quiet town with not much tourists draw. During carnival here is where thousands of people go every Saturday and Sunday during the month of February. People gather on Calle Padre Adolfo (with the cathedral lurking in the distance), in front of the Parque de las Flores or to watch the spectacular event.  The registered groups, known as comparsas, participate in the Carnival parade. These groups can be well organized. Many have participated together for many years. The groups may include from 10 to 15 people and sometimes many more. The traditional costumes are carefully sewn months in advance and are very intricate and colorful.
Crowds of people at Carnival La Vega
Traditionally in old Santo Domingo now known as Colonial Zone, the night before Carnival, people lit their homes, balconies and streets. Illuminating the entire town. The boats would be decorated. There would be oranges and egg shells filled with scented water, the hole plugged with wax. These were called ojos de cera/ wax eyes. They were thrown at the crowds. The procession was held on Calle el Conde. (The Egg History: The Romans phrase Omne vivum ex ovo, "All life comes from an egg." The egg is a universal symbol of birth and resurrection. It has been used by many cultures. The Egyptians and Greeks used eggs in their burial rituals. Mexico fills eggs (cascarones) with confetti or small prizes and throws them. Early variations, connected with the customarily riotous pre-Lenten celebrations, were filled with either perfumed or nasty-smelling colored water and sealed with a plug of wax.)
The Carnival celebrations held in Santo Domingo is the climax of all the carnival activities bring troupes from the entire island together with a magnificent and impressive parade held on the Malecon. The major competitions are held here with a nice sum of money to be won. The capital city is invaded with beings of all varieties, type and description. They are everywhere, roaming the streets. It is not easy many times to distinguish the parading beings from the beings watching the spectacle as many observers wear costumes also. You may see someone with toothpicks protruding from their hair. Diving from eggs being thrown. Whips cracking. People yelling as they are hit by a masked creature on the back side. There will be debris littering the streets. People will have their faces painted. Children will have on plastic Halloween masks. There are all types of food being sold. Vendors selling their wares and trinkets commemorating the carnival. The sights and sounds of Dominican Carnival.
Amongst all the colors, activity and music in abundance one must always be on high alert for the vejigas/ the inflated bladder weapons and the látigos/ whips. The vejigas are a balloon type weapon dangling at the end of a strap, toted by these wicked creatures. These balls are traditionally made of either cow or pig bladders and filled with air. They are also sometimes made of rubber these days. These are used to hit the people that happen to get in the way. Always aiming to hit on the lower part of the body but with all the commotion in the street it is a free for all. Originally these balls were used as crowd control to make way for the costumed peoples. It is said that getting hit brings good luck. I think it is more lucky if you can avoid being hit. I suggest staying away from these weapon-bearing creatures because getting hit hurts. Getting wapped in the butt is not pleasant but it is all part of the Carnival experience.

Warning, do not try and block the hit if you see it coming. Just turn your butt to the weapon and let it hit there. It hurts much less on the back side than it does on the hand and other areas of the body.

The vejigas/ inflated bladder balloons carried by many Carnival characters
Selling little Diablo necklaces at carnaval
During most carnival celebrations the la Cámara de Diputados y el Patrimonio Folklórico de la Nación/ The House of Representatives and the Folkloric Patrimony of the Nation set limitations for the safety of all involved, paraders and observers alike. Prohibited are firearms, glass bottles and any knife/machete type weapon. Also they watch closely to make sure the vejigas are within the limits that have been set forth. No sharp edges or objects attached. They cannot be inflated to be to hard.  They try to make the carnival safe and fun for all.

The most popular Carnival celebrations are:
*Carnaval Vegano - Carnival in La Vega - This is thought to be the oldest carnival celebration in the Americas. Held in the center of this small town on Calle Duarte starting at the church.
*Carnaval Bonao - La "Villa de las Hortensias" held in the Parque Central
*Carnaval Santiago. This huge carnival is held on the streets Las Carreras, Beller and Francia
*Carnaval Salcedo - Held on the main street passing by the church.
*Carnaval Santo Domingo Este - one of the newer additions to the weekly carnival celebrations.
*Carnival Santo Domingo - The capital city has the grand finale carnival parade.

No matter where one goes to see Carnival it is a true fusion of culture and religion Dominican style. Always a grand blend of colors, music, wild activities and exciting dances. The Diablos Cojuelos come out into the streets swinging their weapons and cracking their whips. The people are enjoying. It is an audience participation parade in grand scale. Something that all should experience sometime in their lives.

Mickey and Minnie made an appearance at Carnival Dominicano
The police watching to try and make sure all is safe during carnival
The Roba la Gallina or Chicken Robber is a fun part of the Dominican Republic Carnaval. These large people be it children, women or men dressed as women, walking with their umbrellas and big butts are fun to watch. Their bright smiles and big back sides shaking.
 
The final Carnival Parade down the Malecon is Santo Domingo
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Crowds of people at Carnival La Vega
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The final Carnival Parade down the Malecon is Santo Domingo
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Selling little Diablo necklaces
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The vejigas/ inflated bladder balloons carried by many Carnival characters
+click to enlarge
The police watching to try and make sure all is safe
+click to enlarge
Mickey and Minnie made an appearance at Carnival Dominicano
 
 
 
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