This middle class plumber – mason has had a place in Dominican folklore since the late 1800’s.
The story goes that Lolito Flochón was a middle class laborer who was working of the reconstruction of the main altar of the first Cathedral of the Americas, Metropolitan Basilica Santa Maria la Menor, (Altar Mayor de la Catedral Primada de América, Basílica Metropolitana de Santa María la Menor) in 1877 under the supervision of Padre Francisco Xavier Billini. In his reconstruction work he came across what was thougth to be the remains of the discoverer of the Americas, Christopher Columbus, in a casket under the altar. This fact was never really confirmed but it really did not matter. The President at that time, General Ulysses Heureaux was so happy about the find he offered to grant Lolito whatever reward he would like for this wonderful discovery. Lolito replied that he wanted to lead the Carnival celebrations.
The wish of the laborer Lolito Flochón was granted. This iconic and unique character was blessed by the City Council to authorize the opening of the carnival. Since then no one could start Carnival partying without Lolito Flochón giving permission and leading the way.
Before this time in history Carnival was divided into two different celebrations, the upper and lower class each had their own separate celebrations. With the reward granted to Lolita it brought both classes together to make it one grand celebration for all people.
It was said, “Columbus discovered America and Lolito discovered Columbus.”
Lolito, a common man, laborer, mason, of humble social class found his place in Dominican history.
So when you see this nostalgic figure, a uniquely dressed silly looking man in big yellow glasses, try to imagine how happy he was dancing and partying in front of the carnival procession. All because he found a casket in the alter.