The traditional Carnival celebrations, which mark the last day feasting and frivolity before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, are serious fun in Jelsa. The Udruga Karnevol (Carnival Association) takes pride in producing a memorable spectacular day for all ages. Great thought and care are expended on the costumes, which are always imaginative, also meticulously constructed. Every detail is attended to, from footwear to facial makeup.
The greatest part of the dressing up is, of course, done beforehand at home, with last-minute adjustments taking place after assembly at hte local schools, and running repairs on the spot as the day wears on. In the excitement, appendages such as tails can come loose and require special attention.
The celebrations start in the late morning with a parade of the youngest, as the kindergarten classes come out to show off their finery. The Jelsa Council area is not short of healthy young children, a good omen for the future.
Excited but orderly, they lined the street behind the Jelsa kindergarten, waiting for the traffic to be stopped so that they could set off.
Once the big lorries emanating from the Riva renovations had made their exit, the police blocked off Jelsa's main street, and the children set off on their march. Their ever-watchful teachers and carers helped them to avoid splashing in puddles and spoiling their costumes.
After their little tour of Jelsa, the children came into Jelsa's Pjaca, (main square), to appear in the stage at the far end.
Colourful and cheerful groups walked confidently past delighted parents and onlookers.
The event gives the young a great chance to have fun dressing up and parading in front of an ever-appreciative audience.
Each group arrives on the stage and gives a presentation. This might be a song, a dance or a reading, sometimes a combination of the aforementioned. The children's reward is a gift box for each class.
Carnival participation starts even before kindergarten age. Toddlers are dressed up in festive costumes and decorations, so that they can share the experience. In a few short years, they'll be taking part in the real thing.
Of course, there were photographers galore recording the charm of the occasion, including Andrea Zagorac, one of the small group of indefatigable volunteers who organize this event so successfully year after year.
In the afternoon it was the turn of the older children to go on parade. There was an impressive display including dogs, representing different breeds.
Waiting before or after the 'serious business' of taking their turn on stage allowed for refreshment with doughnuts (krafne).
There were a few dogs on hand to hoover up the crumbs, in between getting to know each other better.
One young hunter brought along a real hunting dog, who looked as though he'd rather be free running around the countryside than performing to a crowd, no matter how appreciative:
There were scary scarecrows:
The First Graders from Jelsa Elementary School presented themselves as 'Eco Owls' (Eko sove), to put forward an environmental message.
The class is already very engaged in environmental protection issues, with one pupil, Taliah Bradbury, particularly concerned for the fate of trees, especially in the Amazon. The school has built up good eco-credentials over the years, so the energies of this young group of potential eco-warriors should be well-honed by the time they leave.
After the festivities in Jelsa, Pitve's young Carnival stars went round the village distributing dougnuts and good cheer, in return for small gifts from the grown-up residents.
The annual Carnival provides an unforgettable experience for young people. it is an excellent basis for teaching pupils that life is about having fun - without causing harm. Carnival fun is sociable, carefree, meaningful in its way, and ultimately dignified.
© Vivian Grisogono 2016