Living in Hamra has its perks. Apart from being within walking distance to absolutely everything you need – grocery, pharmacy, tailor, carpenter, gym, shopping, pubs, and restaurants..the streets of Hamra occasionally play host to charming street festivals.
Yesteryday was the beginning of Maraya 2010 – Hamra street festival. So..seeing that I live two minutes walk from Hamra main street, I thought it would be a great way to spend the afternoon.
According to the festival organizers,
“Hamra Streets Festival – Maraya 2010, from September 10 to 12, 2009 is under the patronage of HE Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Hamra Street will be closed to cars from Friday afternoon till Sunday at Midnight. (when will they learn that Hamra is so much nicer as a pedestrian street! One of the things I enjoy most about these festivals is being able to roam the streets without having to worry about getting knocked down by a taxi or teenager in his 350Z!)
It is a convivial and cultural festival, it’s aim is to exhibit the cultural and artistic diversity of Lebanon in general and Hamra Street in particular.
The festival has encompassed a vast number of activities and events that target all age groups. Participation in the festival is flexible, and we have greatly encouraged amateur musicians , Artists and Free-lancers in all fields of the Arts..”
Sounds nice, right? Well..I looked for the day’s program online..and yesterday was the Inaguration and Parade. The festivities, which took place between 5:00pm – 7:45 pm (ahemm..more like 6:30 – 9:00 pm) included:
Carnival Float (Char de Carnaval), Dancing Groups, Zaffee loubnaniyya, Harley Davidson Owners HOG, The Beirut Orchestra, University Clubs Parade, Firemen, Croix Rouge Libanaise, Fuel Tankers with donkeys (SAY WHAT?), Vegetable Chariots, Street Artists (Fire eater, stilt walker, etc…), Vintage Car etc…
So at 5:00 pm sharp, my roomate and I made our way down to Hamra main street, and decided to take a seat in the outdoor section of Napoletana. Ideally we would have liked to sit outside of Caribou coffee, seeing that it is right on the street – but it was already full. In retrospect, sitting behind a glass window probably wasn’t such a good idea, my photos suffered because of it..but at least I was comfortable, right?
I sat there, with my camera ready..anxious to catch the action.. when 25 horses ran by all with soldiers atop them waving Lebanese flags. “Ok it’s starting,” I said to my roomate.
5 minutes passed by, then 10, then 15..and still NOTHING. As was to be expected, the parade started late..But in the mean time..people began to crowd the streets, eager to get a good spot..Families, friends, lovers, and strangers..it’s always great to see everyone together like this..it also made me realize how much of a market there is for outdoor events and festivals in Lebanon..
“What’s going on, where is the parade?” I said to my friend..
And with that..a man dressed up as a giant chicken walked by..I’m assuming it had something to do with the theme of the festival itself…(which I still don’t understand btw..can someone please explain to me the chicken and the egg thing?)
Who was the first to open the parade?..Well, none other than Miss Lebanon 2010, Rahaf Abdallah, of course..in all her beauty queen splendor..the hair, the makeup, the sash, the princess wave..She looked happy being driven around in an old school VW buggie..seemingly oblivious to all of the negative hype that has been circulating on the Lebanese blogosphere around her..“Haram, I hope this girl never googles her name,” I thought to myself..
And then came a congregation of..I don’t know what..clowns? Whatever they were..they were having a great time..and succeeded in getting the crowd around them all hyped up..
After the clowns, came the..umm..uhhh..fuel tank and donkey? Yeah, can someone explain this one to me? My friend and I didn’t really know what to make of it, especially since the donkey (which looked more like a small horse) looked as if it was about to buckle under the pressure of the tanker..poor thing..I think something was wrong with its hoof!
Anyway, after the tanker and its donkey/mini horse, came a procession of antique VWs, and other cars..some of them even looked like go-carts and bumper cars (but on wheels)..
Next came the MEA float..ok, so I know that we aren’t in New York City,,and I know that this ain’t exactly the Macy”s Day Parade..but was it wrong of me to expect a little bit more from MEA and their float?
Anyway, after the MEA float..came a couple in a horse drawn carriage wearing traditional Lebanese costume, and a troop of dancers – which I really liked..their energy, their costumes, their music..easily one of the favorites..so much so that I couldn’t snap a good photo..there were so many people crowded around them!
There was a break between the Lebanese dancers and what I considered the MAIN EVENT..so, I took this crowd shot:
And then came..THE MAIIIIIIIIIN EVENT!
At first, you couldn’t see them..but you sure could hear them..the Harley Davidsons!!
As they approached where I was sitting, the revvvvvving from their engines got increasing louder,,the buildings in Hamra trapping in the beautiful sounds..the vibrations flooded my ears, my head, my chest..my adrenaline began to pump..
“I can only imagine what it feels like to ride one of those babies! What a rush!” I thought to myself..at which point, both me and my roommate turned to each other and mouthed the word, “WOW!”
After the Harleys..came a capoiera troop, the AUB music club, the Lebanese girls/boy scouts.. and a Japanese inspired float – titled Japanese journey of creation – which one first place for best float and best parading group! The float was a joint collaboration between students from 10 different universities who all share a passion and a love of Japanese culture..congrats guys! Check out their facebook page by clicking here!
photo taken from group’s facebook page.
After the parade was over, my roommate and I settled our bill and made our way from Napoletana onto the streets, where we blended into the crowd and took a stroll up and down Hamra main street. At around 8:30 a beautiful fireworks show lit up the night sky..the perfect way to end the first day of the Maraya 2010 Hamra street festival..
All in all, I think the inaguration and the parade was a smashing success. And one thing is for sure..
I can’t wait to see what the weekend has in store! 🙂