Saturday, January 19, 2008

Men with strong shoulders

This will be the fourth year that International Cofradia in Torrevieja have has taken to the streets of Torrevieja carrying the float of Jesus in the Garden of Olives (Cofradia de Nuestro Padre Jesús en la Oración del Huerto de los Olivos).

It was a great honour, four years ago for the international community to be asked to take part in this very Spanish of events and each subsequent year one hundred or so men dressed in their uniforms of bright green shirts and gold cummerbunds have lifted the beautifully decorated float proudly around Torrevieja.

Accompanying them have been the lady Nazarenos of the Cofradia in their characteristic gold pointed hats (capirotes) and green flowing robes. It has given the residents of Torrevieja a lot of pleasure to see the float being carried so proudly when for years it had to be driven through the streets. Taking the paso to the shoulders provides a much more religious experience for the onlookers..

While some other towns and cities have experienced difficulties in filling spaces with Costaleros, Torrevieja was able last year to include a new float of the Last Supper into the Easter programme with a new cofradia appropriately consisting of Costaleros whose professions are all to do with catering hotels and bars.

The help that the International Cofradia gave to the Cofradia of the Last Supper in their early days was particularly well received and the International Cofradia were given a standing ovation on their return to the Inmaculada Church after the Monday night parade, which was a very humbling experience for those who took part.

The International Cofradia has become an established part of the Easter processions and members of the group also took part last year in the Stations of the Cross parade and the Virgen del Carmen ceremony.

With the parades only being held once per year even the most experienced Costaleros need to get ‘back into the swing’ of carrying the float and inevitably with the numbers involved there are usually some who are unable to carry thus providing opportunities for new recruits to take part and they of course need to be taught the unique marching steps which when properly carried out actually help ensure the weight is more manageable.

Practice dates have been organised as follows. The first meeting, which all are asked to attend, will be a general meeting to establish firm numbers of those who will be able to take part in this year’s parades and also as an opportunity to ask any questions and raise any points of concern. This will take place on Thursday January 31st.

As usual the meeting will be held at the Semana Santa Museum behind Los Arcos in Torrevieja at 7.30 pm for 8.00 pm. It is not intended that there will be a practice as such that night and the first ‘proper’ practice will be held on the 7th February at the same time. There will be no practice on 14th February as it is St. Valentine’s night.

Further practice nights will be held on Thursday 21st February, Thursday 28th February, Thursday March the 6th and on the night of Thursday 13th the float will be taken down to the Inmaculada where it will be parked in the tent behind the church ahead of the actual parades taking place during the following week.

The annual cost of membership of the cofradia will remain at €30 and all members are asked to bring their money along as soon as possible - preferably to the first meeting on Thursday January 31st.

Each year the floats are blessed and the International Cofradia’s float will be blessed in a joint service with two other cofradias, La Convocatoria and Padre Jésus en la Última y Sagrada Cena. The service will be held on Sunday 24th February at the Semana Santa Museum starting at 1.00 pm.

The International Cofradia is looking for a good attendance so as many members as possible are asked to attend.

A celebratory lunch is usually organised to follow the blessing and details of this will hopefully be available at the first meeting on January 31st.

Anyone who is unable to take part in the parades but has a uniform is asked to make sure they return their uniforms for new members.

The cofradia is uncertain at this time as to final numbers of new recruits that may be needed to take part in this year’s parades but anyone who is interested in becoming a Costalero is more than welcome to attend the first meeting to meet some current members and learn a little more about what is entailed in carrying the ‘paso’ or for further information you can telephone David McLachan on 966700056.

If you are interested, then John, who is this year's "Third Age King" and lives on our estate, is a member of the International Cofradia. I'm sure he wouldn't mind answering any questions you may have.

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