In the Dominican Republic, Carnival is celebrated throughout February with groups of elaborately costumed and masked people parading through the streets.
To kick of the 14th American Folk Festival, Asociación Carnavalesca de Massachusetts is bringing some of that energy and excitement to the Bangor Waterfront, starting with the traditional festival parade at 6:45 p.m. from the Sea Dog Brewing Co. to the Railroad Stage.
The group is led by Stelvyn Mirabal of Lawrence, Massachusetts.
“This will be our first time up in Maine,” Mirabal said. “We will like to get the crowd to be able to dance and march with us [and] become part of us by wearing colorful wigs, hats, etc.”
And for Mirabal, performance is a family affair.
“My son Leonardo and my daughter Clara Sofia and some nieces and nephews are part of the group,” he said.
Mirabal formed a comparsa 12 years ago, a group of costumed people who participate in the carnival parade and were part of Lawrence’s second Dominican Parade. There are now 75 people in Mirabal’s comparsa and the Asociación Carnavalesca de Massachusetts is well known throughout New England for participation in Dominican and Latino cultural festivals and parades as ambassadors of Dominican culture.
He said about 20 — maybe more — members of the group will perform at Friday’s parade, with 32 planning to be in Maine for the rest of the festival. Performers don elaborate masks and costumes as ambassadors of Dominican culture. The “diablos cojuelos” or limping devils of the group deliver high energy dances and music that brings crowds to their feet.
As for pre-performance rituals, the Asociación Carnavalesca doesn’t really have any.
“We don’t have any rituals but to start dancing as soon as we hear any music,” Mirabel said. “I describe my group as energetic.”