Christmas here can be in the middle of summer and often reach 40ºC, depending on your region, but that doesn’t stop some Brazilians still dreaming of that vision of snow and a warm Santa Claus down the chimney. In São Paulo, this dream can be realized through an illusion of the “Natal na Paulista” campaign, which since last Saturday, 3, has been spreading totem poles with giant bears, Christmas carols and fake “snow” on the capital’s largest avenue.
Until the next 27th, between 18:00 and 23:30, these ten stations will light up every half hour, spreading the Christmas atmosphere along Avenida Paulista with foam snow, flashing lights and world classics such as “Beat the bell ” and “Happy night”. The initiative is a partnership between the City Hall and São Paulo Turismo, sponsored by SmartFit and Sadia.
On the busiest street in the “city that doesn’t stop”, many people stopped to see what that “snow” was amidst the smoke from the buses. Children, couples and families stopped to take a picture, while others just filmed from afar, a little embarrassed. If there were those who showed irritation with the foam that interfered with hairstyles and clouded the lenses of their glasses, others were amused and displayed smiles visible even under their masks.
The couple Susana and Fernando Fortes had already seen the action on social networks, in accounts with tips for sightseeing around the city and children’s tours. On the afternoon of Wednesday, 8th, they decided to take their children Caio and Catarina, aged 6 and 4, to see the “snow” for the first time, a sensation that gained a little meteorological boost with the approximately 17ºC recorded in the capital around 6pm, a temperature above glacial, but below usual for December.
“There’s a lack of Christmas spirit these days, right”, says Susana. When it’s 6 pm and the attraction starts to fall in front of Tenente Siqueira Campos Park, Fernando and Caio have fun, while the little one runs from one side to the other, following the foam blown by the wind. Catarina was not very impressed: “It’s soap scum”, she complains in her mother’s lap.
Next door, 33-year-old hotelier Bárbara Garcia took the day off to discover the new thing with her stepson Lucas, age 5, and girlfriend Monica, before going to Ibirapuera Park. “I thought it was really cool and it was cute. The decoration here in Paulista has always been nice at Christmas and cheers up the city a little, but in recent years it was very scarce”, she says, having lived in the city for five years.
The comparison with what has already been done in the region is inevitable and, in some aspects, it disappointed some of the people from São Paulo who were expecting something more. “This ‘snow’ is different and very cool. We needed something like this, but I remember that in the past it was much bigger”, observes Felipe Sugano, 30, who took the opportunity to take photos with his mother, Miriam, 63.
“It’s nothing close to what it used to be, but people have fun”, says Lorena Freitas, 24 years old. She sells handicrafts and accessories made from golden grass in a stall next to one of the snow stations. There, the stretch of sidewalk is narrower and the movement of people stopping to take a picture or just rolling under the foam ends up disrupting pedestrian traffic, but she says the new device hasn’t interfered much with sales. “At night it’s prettier, to be honest.”
Accompanied by his girlfriend, 27-year-old psychologist Anderson Silva felt divided by the action, partly because of the coronavirus pandemic, which after nearly two years has not given any respite to the festive spirit of Brazilians. On the one hand, he says, “maybe this isn’t the best time to celebrate.” On the other hand, he confesses, it might be nice to have some relief from all the collective mourning of the last few months, “even if for a little bit”.
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