Oh no! Not that! It’s the Burning of Juan Carnaval! Just like they say, all good things must come to an end and it has. Carnaval officially ends with the literal torching of an effigy. Poor Juan Carnaval.
This event begins with a ceremony at the town square honoring all who have led this season’s events. Dignitaries. Community sponsors and organizers. They have all put in a lot of work making Carnaval happen on Cozumel. Lots of rounds of applause. You get the idea. The schedule for the next year is mentioned and behind the scenes, planning and competitions have already begun. This sort of thing doesn’t organize itself. You’ll notice all the Kings and Queens of Carnaval, as well as the city officials, are dressed in black. This is to honor the “death” of Juan Carnaval.
Buring of Juan Carnaval: Take 1
The sun has gone down and all eyes shift to the permanent raised stage where you can see Juan Carnaval standing rather stiffly, suspended up in the air so all can see, surrounded by firefighters and police. If you had looked to the side and watched the preparations rather than the dignitaries, you would have seen the guy being doused with accelerant in preparation. Now is the moment. One of the firefighters lights up Juan from a safe distance and we watch as he sparks, sputters and then nothing.
Take 2… 3… 4…
Another try. And another try. And another try. They are getting some smoke but little action. They add more fuel with each attempt. There is now a huddle of firefighters and police on stage discussing their strategy.
This went on for an extended time and multiple attempts. The master of ceremonies attempted to redirect the audience’s attention to the officials gathered on the awards stage. But no way was I missing this! Juan Carnaval was lowered onto the stage floor once again and the one female officer looks at her partners, draws a pocket knife from her uniform pants, and bends down low over Juan. She raises her arm high in the air and stabs him repeatedly. Over and over. My family was wide-eyed but we managed to hold back our laughter as fuel is now poured INTO Juan’s wounds. He is raised again and this time the flames win and the crowd cheers. Carnaval season is over until next year.
Since the burning of Juan Carnaval is held at Parque Benito Juarez, it’s an easy event to attend as a wheelchair user. The park is smooth concrete and to get to the park you can take one of the wheelchair van taxis or roll along the sidewalk along the water. This area has been redone, so the sidewalks, curb cuts, and entire park, are easy to navigate.