+ ++ Hawaii’s Colombians celebrated their traditional Carnaval at Magic Island | Latina Lista
Local Stories

Hawaii’s Colombians celebrated their traditional Carnaval at Magic Island

Hawaii’s Colombians celebrated their traditional Carnaval at Magic Island

By José Villa, Senior Editor
Hawaii Hispanic News

HONOLULU, Hawaii – On Saturday, February 18, Hawaii’s Colombian community celebrated their annual Carnaval on Magic Island. I asked Maria Claudia Butcher Bernales, one of the organizers, to share the purpose of the carnaval. She is from Barranquilla, Colombia, and works as a computer systems engineer at the University of Hawaii.

According to the Wikipedia: “Barranquilla is an industrial port city and municipality located in northern Colombia, near the Caribbean Sea. It is the largest industrial city and port in the Colombian Caribbean region with a population of 1,148,506 as of 2005, which makes it Colombia's fourth most populous city after Bogotá, Medellín and Cali.” That means the population is roughly
the size of ours here in Hawaii.

Butcher is a member of a family of pastors. She said” “We were pastoring in Oregon when we were called upon, while praying, to
come to Hawaii to do His work here. It was a leap of faith. We came in 2005 to look around and get a feel for the societal landscape. We didn’t have any jobs. After arriving, we were able to start meeting members of the Hispanic community through volunteering at the Word of Life En Español ministry.”

She continued: “We were then able to start locating and connecting with other Colombians in the community here. One time a friend mentioned that we should have a carnaval here like the one back home in Barranquilla. It turned out later that she was
kidding, but I took the idea to heart.”

According to Wikipedia: “Throughout the year the city has considerable cultural activity. It’s best known for the Carnival of
Barranquilla, one of the most famous festivals in Colombia. It is a multicultural event highlighting the cultural traditions from the 19th Century. It is held annually during the four days preceding Ash Wednesday-Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, usually in February or early March.”

Butcher continued: “I started developing the plans for a Baranquilla-style carnaval here. We had the first one in 2010 at the Pililaau Army Recreation Center at Pokai Bay in Waianae and it was spectacular. We had food, music, dancing, etc. I was the first queen. We had a website and the info was on the radio, etc. Last year’s carnaval was in Kapiolani Park.”

Butcher went on: “This year’s carnaval queen was Kaylah Miranda. She is half-Dominican and half-Colombian. She was one of the winners in this year’s Miss Hawaii Latina Pageant and we were proud to have her. We actually invited the queen from Baranquilla"

What is the purpose of the festival in Baranquillas? Butcher said: “The purpose of the festival is actually to provide a respite for the entire city. It’s an opportunity for everyone to come out into the streets and forget the everyday problems they may be dealing with. Many folks wear masks and costumes. There are many political barbs and satire of elected officials, the president, the government and dignitaries, etc.”

She continued: “One of my favorite parts of the festival is the Battle of the Flowers. It’s comprised of various floats decorated with flowers – similar to our Aloha Floral Parade here. Each float has a queen. In-between the floats, we have bands and dancing groups performing. And they’ll also have well-known Latin orchestras perform, like El Gran Combo from Puerto Rico. So – essentially – it’s like a block party for the entire city.”

I’m certainly looking forward to many more Colombian carnavals in Hawaii. These folks throw a great party!

View Comments (1)

1 Comment

  1. Jose Villa

    March 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing this story Marisa!

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Local Stories

More in Local Stories

2_460_34a4a53b-561f-4b6a-a956-8ae7fda84a4b

SF Mission Organizers Debut Film on Alex Nieto Case

Latina ListaJanuary 5, 2016
2_453_832f7f3a-cc83-4873-abba-2825da162c90

In one West Valley community, ever-shifting demographics are changing the face of Phoenix

Latina ListaDecember 21, 2015
2_447_a4c84946-4d35-45e6-970f-2d6efb869afe

Rio Grande Valley teachers urged not to turn away students who want to join robotics teams

Latina ListaDecember 17, 2015
2_443_7727a68e-6830-450b-a2a5-0ba1ade69039

U.S. speech and debate teams dig deep for material to overcome literary void of Latino voices

Latina ListaDecember 16, 2015
2_438_1ddd421b-615c-497f-88c6-d9dd33a6cfa5

In All Cases, Oklahoma Police Find No Proof of Racial Profiling

Latina ListaDecember 15, 2015
2_433_d2b59a30-e7e7-49b8-86bc-416abab83622

Bridging a border to unite my transnational family

Latina ListaDecember 10, 2015
2_428_be76ed14-acf4-46ac-9ba8-60de992edd5c

San Diego’s Balboa Park Hosts 32 International Cottages, but Mexico is not one of them

Latina ListaDecember 9, 2015
2_424_933816bc-0b44-4f62-8503-74fc00592dca

One of Chicago’s most prolific artists, Marcos Raya, highlighted at city museum

Latina ListaDecember 8, 2015
2_418_d6650135-5378-41d7-bbc4-f01770b591a2

Young refugees who arrive at the border alone struggle in U.S.

Latina ListaDecember 7, 2015