I just returned from a week in the small island country of Malta. For our first trip with our nearly two-month old baby, we decided to rent a house outside the village of Xaghra on Malta’s smaller island Gozo. Picking us up from the ferry, our landlady explained how the town was gearing up for the national Victory Day holiday on September 8th as well as the village patron saint’s feast celebration, and each night there would be smaller festivities building up to the main event. Every night we’d walk to the square, choose among the handful of restaurants to eat (with a population of 4,200, it’s among the more cosmopolitan of Gozitan villages), and watch the square fill with people chatting, eating, and playing bingo, as it turned out. We saw girls in outfits that would be considered skimpy in a Miami nightclub flirt on the church steps with boys wearing shirts with religious icons. On our last night on Gozo, the square was more packed than usual and soon we discovered why: a parade was about to start!
%Gallery-133057%The village parade consisted mainly of a marching band and a large statue of the village’s patron saint, Our Lady of Victories, carried by a team of local men, many who had been enjoying a few Cisk beers. The make up of the band’s members was motley but memorable, including a tiny man carrying a drum that nearly dwarfed him, a boy barely in his teens playing among musicians decades older, a pretty young woman in high wedge heels. The band started out in the square, playing various Gozitan and Maltese anthems, before moving down the main road under a rain of confetti. We followed the band along the street until we were stopped in a bottleneck in front of Our Lady of Victories. You do NOT want to get in front of Our Lady, lest you want to be scolded by the man in charge of her and her (increasingly drunken) handlers. We moved aside and let the band continue down the street, leaving a thick carpet of confetti. Every child in town came out to gather bunches of confetti, build forts in it, and throw it at their friends.
As the crowd began to disperse, we stopped at a snack bar where they played a recording of the songs we had just heard, in search of a nightcap. Even a dozen years of living in New York with its legendary parades couldn’t compare to the fun we had at a small Gozitan feast, and this was just a warm up celebration! In New York, you wouldn’t see a child rolling around making confetti angels. In New York, you can’t touch the floats. In New York, you couldn’t buy a magnum of good local wine after hours and be told apologetically that it would cost 4 euro. But in Gozo, a family of Russian/American New York City expats from Istanbul could feel dazzled by a small village feast.
Carnival Cruise Lines today threw its signature “Fun” hat in the ring as official confetti sponsor of the Times Square New Years Eve 2011 celebration. The sponsorship includes multiple opportunities for the line to infuse its version of fun into the festivities including a free-cruise giveaway, sure to be popular with frigid party-goers.
“Carnival is thrilled to be part of New York City‘s New Year’s Eve celebration and add our brand of participatory fun to the festivities,” said Jim Berra, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Lines. “We’ll also be sending warm thoughts of Caribbean climes and tropical breezes to the revelers braving the cold by giving away a Carnival cruise vacation to one lucky person.”
Before midnight, popular senior cruise director/blogger John Heald will lead a practice countdown releasing 500 pounds of Carnival signature red, white and blue confetti onto the crowd. At the stroke of midnight, a ton of the Carnival confetti will be hand-tossed by about 100 Carnival “confetti dispersal engineers” to fill the sky.
Carnival invites everyone to get in on the fun by visiting the Times Square Visitors Center where the line has a Carnival Confetti New Years Eve Wishing Wall. Visitors can share their hopes and dreams for 2011 on slips of red, white and blue paper that will be added to the confetti used on New Years Eve.
Photo: Carnival Cruise Line