September 18, 2006
By DAVE ALTIMARI, Courant Staff Writer
There were several Carmen Miranda sightings in Hartford's Parkville neighborhood Sunday morning.
Although the Brazilian icon has long since passed away, several little girls sporting her trademark fruit-topped hat and bare midriff marched in the second annual Brazilian Independence Day parade.
Along with the Carmen look-alikes there were other icons or legends of Brazil on display, such as little boys wearing soccer shirts with star Ronaldo's name on the back or a little girl dressed as Saci Perere, a character from Brazilian folklore. Saci Perere, a prankster known as "protector of the forest," dresses all in red and wears a pointy hat that gives him the power to become invisible.
All along the three-block stretch of Park Street, where it's easy to find Brazilian restaurants and convenience stores, were strings of green and yellow balloons - the colors of the Brazilian flag.
About 50 people marched in the three-block parade, which ended with many of the small children releasing balloons into the air as the Brazilian national anthem was loudly played from the speaker of a car trunk.
Brazilian Independence Day is actually Sept. 7, but it was celebrated Sunday in Hartford. Many Brazilians attend larger celebrations in either New York or Boston on the actual holiday.
"It is as important as July 4th is here," said Maria Ferreira of West Hartford as she adjusted the plastic fruit-topped hat that one of her granddaughters was wearing as part of her Carmen Miranda costume. Both of her granddaughters marched as Carmen.
Ferreira said the girls were dressed in the singer's famous outfit to honor the country's best-known entertainer.
The parade and festival that followed were organized by the Shaheen Brazilian Cultural Center. The festival included two bands, dancing - including, of course, the samba - and food, from spicy steak tips on a skewer to a variety of fruit-filled cakes.
The parade was originally supposed to be held Sept. 10 but was delayed because the center needed more funding, according to director Ester Sanches-Naek.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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