Tourism March 1, 2024 | 6:44 pm

Dominican press representatives dive into Cotuí’s vibrant carnival

Cotuí, DR.- Members of the Dominican Association of Tourist Press (Adompretur) got a taste of the electrifying Cotuí carnival, thanks to an invitation from the Sánchez Ramírez Ecotourism Development Council.

President Frank Sánchez Mena of the Council and a lively group of “jameo” musicians welcomed the press, inviting them to join the musical festivities. The immersive “Ruta de Carnaval” kicked off with the children’s parade, a kaleidoscope of colorful costumes representing the national pride of all the province’s schools.

Soaking up the festive atmosphere from the CBL restaurant’s terrace, journalists were treated to a display of music, tradition, and national spirit. They also had the chance to admire the artistry of Ricardo Viloria, who crafts beautiful pieces from natural materials like higüero, cabuya, and even burnt wood. His talent extends to crafting flutes from PVC.

Victoriano Pérez, a guide with the Ecotourism Council, explained the unique aspect of the Cotuí carnival: its dedication to eco-friendly materials. “Each group has their secret costume,” he revealed, “a surprise they unveil during the parade, leaving the audience awestruck.”

Next stop was La Tribu de Cotuí’s workshop. Celebrating 20 years of keeping the cultural tradition alive, founder Vicente Jiménez showcased their 2024 creation: the fantastical “Cacatúas en Fantasía” characters.

The tour continued with a visit to Expo Carnaval 2024, a showcase of the region’s signature carnival costumes. They then headed to “Los Pintaos de la Calle’s” residence, where the group was putting the finishing touches on their costumes, featuring a striking warrior eagle mask.

At the Council president’s residence, Eugenia Torres (Pekita) shared the story behind “Las Damiselas.” This creative group, founded by Marcia Amparo, a local teacher who once reigned as carnival queen, has been crafting stunning costumes from gift wrap since 1999. They’re pioneers of the fantasy paper category and the first to use glitter in their designs. Their talent was recognized nationally in 2014 when they won the Fantasy category at the National Carnival Parade.

The final stop honored the legacy of Juan Francisco Estévez, known as “Jesús María.” He was a passionate advocate for the “platanuces” character, ensuring its flamboyant presence in each carnival. Today, his daughter Yamaira Estévez and her daughters carry on the tradition, participating in the Sunday parades.

Adompretur president Yenny Polanco Lovera expressed her gratitude to the Ecotourism Council for the invitation. “The Cotuí carnival’s commitment to using natural materials, like banana leaves for the iconic ‘platanuses’ costumes, is truly commendable,” she remarked.

Luisa Feliz, María Mercedes, Carmen Bretón, Yenny Polanco Lovera, José Ramón Torres, Cristina Rosario and Salvador Batista.

The Adompretur representatives also had the opportunity to chat with Juan Francisco Vásquez, or “Juampa,” a beloved Cotuí carnival figure. He expressed his appreciation for the Dominican people’s support of their cultural traditions, highlighting the carnival’s role in shaping their identity. “Our town is a treasure trove of talent,” he said, “and this vibrant carnival is a testament to the creativity and democratic spirit that flourishes here.”

The jam-packed trip included a delicious lunch at Muro Restaurant and a visit to the Hatillo Dam, before the journalists headed to Duarte Park to experience the full spectacle of the Cotuí carnival, with its dazzling “papeluses,” “platanuses,” “funduses,” and a kaleidoscope of the town’s most creative characters.

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