The Viareggio Carnival was established in 1873 when some of the local "signori" decided to organize a Sunday a little different from the rest, by inventing a procession of decorated floats which travelled up and down the main street of the city. On that occasion a masked protest was also organized by a number of citizens, as they were forced to pay too many taxes and as a result the chief tax collector was certainly made fun of!! The parade was liked alot not only by the patrons but also by the citizens and the idea of making floats that interpreted humour and disatisfaction of the people came about in that year.
Since then Viareggio has become the home of the Italian Carnival, with its masked parades characterized by allegorical floats in papermache. These floats are true works of art to which the local float makers dedicate an entire year of workmanship. There is not one politician, entertainer, or intellectual that has not been a target (protagonist) of one of these floats which almost comes to life during the parade by the moving arms, opening and closing mouths and rolling eyes. On every float young people and children find a place from which to throw confetti and shooting stars to the crowd. During the entire period masked balls and parties in the various "rioni" (quarters, districts) are organized as well as numerous sports and cultural events i.e. "Torneo Internazionale giovanile di calcio".The official Viareggio Carnival mask is the "Burlamacco", a clown which wears clothes taken from other Italian masks: checkered overalls, taken from the Harlequin's costume, a white ponpon stolen from Pierrot's big puffy blouse, a white gorget - "Captain Scary" style, a red headband and a black mantle. The name Burlamacco derives from Buffalmacco a Florentine painter and a character in the "Decamerone". However, it is also said to be linked to the Lucchese surname Burlamacchi.
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