Oh geez! I do not even know how to start this post. Maybe I should do a little explaining. Carnevale is a festival that is held in Europe. All of the towns around here have their own festival but the big one is held in Bellinzona twenty minutes away. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced in America. I imagine that it is a mix between Halloween and Mardi Gras but I have never been to Mardi Gras so I don't know personally. Carnevale has Pagan origins. It was originally a Pagan festival where people were supposed to let themselves be free and have fun. It was also the final hurrah of winter before it became spring. From what I can tell, it is celebrated today by costumes and dancing.
My first Carnevale experience was 4 years ago with my teammates Edwin and Zay. We were extremely bored and had nothing to do on a Thursday night. Edwin had suggested going so we decided to give it a shot. Zay drove the 20 minutes from Lugano to Bellinzona and we were immediately impressed with the set up. The whole town was completely shut down. The castles were illuminated and dressed up. Tents were set up all around the city serving refreshments and food. There were also tents set up as mini clubs where you can go in and dance the night away. To top it all off, everyone was dressed up in costumes. The coolest part though was the marching bands that play in the streets. They play all kinds of fun songs and have really cool drum lines, but not nearly as good as Brighton High Schools. Though if it were Brighton High School you probably wouldn't be able to dance. Needless to say, the night was a complete blast and my first Carnevale experience was awesome!!!!!
My second Carnevale had a lot to live up to. Last year I was back in Ticino with SAM Massagno. When February rolled around I started looking forward to the annual festival. I told my American teammates, Brody and Noah, about it. They seemed skeptical at first but once they were there it was a blast. Brody also had some friends visiting to partake in the festivities. It is always nice to have visitors and they were awesome guys so it just added to the fun. The picture is Vinz, Brody myself and Noah. Apparently I was very excited to see a 6'4" grown man dressed up as a donkey.
As good as the first two times were, I think that this year was the best. If you have been reading the blog, then you know that this has been a rough year for us filled with many ups and downs. We do not go out very often and this was a perfect time for us to just get away from basketball and enjoy ourselves. Kameron Gray (pg from Oakland, CA) played for Lugano last year so he knew what to expect but Ross Morin (pf from Yale) and Dan had no idea. About two weeks before the festival we started planning on what to wear. We knew we wanted to dress up but we didn't want to spend a lot of money. The easiest thing to do was to buy a mask and a silly looking hat to go along with it. It was a group thing so we all bought the same mask but the hats were up to each person. Liz even participated and got a mask herself!
Once we had the masks, all we had to do was wait for the right night to go. We headed out on the last night (Tuesday) because we figured the crowds would be smaller and it was the night that was farthest from a game. We hopped on the train and were ready to have some fun.
When we got there we immediately met up with some teammates. We play with some great guys and they are really fun to hang out with. The costumes they were wearing were also hilarious. One of our coaches was dressed up as a baby and the other was dressed up in some tight black pants with butterflies on them and wearing an afro.
We spent the night walking around, dancing and just taking everything in. It is such an awesome experience playing and living in Europe. Sometimes, you just have to step back and let yourself become a part of things.