The Tenerife weather Gods smiled upon Santa Cruz Carnaval 2012 once again as the Tuesday Coso parade marked the beginning of the end of carnival. Blue skies and warm sun helped to take the edge of the cool breeze for the 150,000 or so people who lined the Avenida MarÃtima in Tenerife’s capital yesterday to witness the closing parade.
Having found our way to the Opening Parade on Friday night barred by the closure of Las Ramblas, we were taking no chances yesterday as we headed into Santa Cruz for the Coso Apoteosis. Parking the car at the bus station just after 3pm, we set off walking amongst the Smurfs, sexy policewomen, gangsters, princesses and assorted creatures of the night who were braving sunlight and a nippy breeze to get to food stalls and the fairground before the parade began.
Jacket potato, churros and hot dog stalls were doing a brisk business and getting our nostrils twitching as we made our way along the Avenida following the file of 8000 chairs placed ring-side for the thousands of visiting tourists arriving in the city by the coach load. With just under an hour until the start of the parade, many of the chairs along the Auditorium end of the Avenida MarÃtima were still vacant but the further we walked towards Plaza España, the fewer empty seats there were.
By 3.30pm the city was buzzing with crowds. The restaurants and bars lining Avenida de Anaga and Avenida Francisco la Roche were teeming with diners, plates of calamari, tapas, paella and fresh bocadillos doing nothing to temper the rising hunger caused by being in a city that smelled like one, vast kitchen in the throes of preparing a banquet. Progress along the pavement was a slow and stilted affair with the way being barred by groups of chatting friends, little dogs on leads, Christopher Columbus and a posse of baby carriages.
With time slipping away and crowds growing thicker by the second we finally found a standing place in front of some very whiffy bins where we could get an unbroken view of the action and waited for the parade to begin. Almost on the stroke of 4pm the first float set off to the applause and seat dancing of the audience around us and the usual arrival of late comers elbowing their way in front of us until I found myself almost pinned to the smelly bin and straining to see the action. Such is carnival.
Floats, Murgas, dancing troupes and costumed characters passed by, their faces and legs betraying the fatigue they were feeling after the biggest street party of carnival the night before, but still their smiles were never far from the surface when the camera pointed their way. Carmen González wore her costume ‘Imperio’ with all the grace and style of, well a Carnaval Queen as she passed by quite early on in the proceedings to the tumultuous applause of onlookers.
At 8pm when the last of the parade stragglers had made their way past the crowds, the Santa Cruz sky exploded into a spectacular fireworks display and the city was able to get on with the serious business of clearing away chairs for the nightly street parties to begin.
The city of Santa Cruz has a very different feel to it on Carnival Tuesdays. Streets which normally throng with city dwellers, office workers and those on port business with intermittent scatterings of cruise passengers and day trippers, are transformed into Tenerife’s largest tourist destination for the day. The seats which line the parade route are welcomed by visitors for whom the more than three hours of passing parade would otherwise constitute an endurance trail but there’s no doubt they also remove some of the spontaneity and joie de vivre of the Opening Parade. Add to that the fatigue of those involved in the parade following the excesses of the night before and it’s a quieter affair altogether.
But for all of that, the Coso Apoteosis (closing parade) of Santa Cruz carnival is a great day out for anyone visiting Tenerife during carnival. It’s a spectacular, three hour plus show for the price of a €2.50 front row seat and it does give just a little taste of the colour and glamour of a Tenerife carnival.
The party in Santa Cruz will continue with the Burial of the Sardine and nightly street parties until Sunday 26th February before the costume drama is finally packed away for another year.