Kvarner newsletter / no 49

Carnival spectacle in Mošćenička Draga
Instead of being burned, the Pust carnival puppet is launched into space

On Ash Wednesday, 22 February, the Pust carnival puppet is being set on fire across the Kvarner region. However, in the resort of Mošćenička Draga, located south of Lovran, for the 37th year in a row the Pust – locally known as Gobo – will instead be launched into space in a rocket.

Kvarner's rich carnival tradition includes numerous customs that are brought back to life every February in many places along the region. Some of these traditions are truly unique, such as the custom of burning the Pust, a puppet that is blamed for everything that went wrong in the previous year, on Ash Wednesday, which marks the end of the carnival. A very special type of this ceremony is held in Mošćenička Draga, a small coastal resort south of Lovran – there the Pust is traditionally launched into space in a rocket. This custom was initiated when the first man (Neil Armstrong) stepped on the Moon.
Therefore, the idea of launching the Pust in Mošćenička Draga dates back to 1969, and has regularly taken place ever since, with just a few exceptions. Over time, this tradition became a true spectacle that last year was viewed by ca. 3,000 spectators.
This year's event will start on 22 February at 17.30 with a trial when the Pust (locally known as Gobo) is accused for everything that went wrong in the previous year. The trial is a real theatrical performance featuring Gobo, the judge, the prosecutor and defence attorney, and an actual political figure – this year it will be somebody from the European Union. Gobo will come to the trial accompanied by the executioner. The theatrical act will be followed by a funeral march and a spectacular launching of Gobo into space with an exciting countdown and a big explosion. The rocket that is constructed anew every year (this year it will be more than 20 metres long) is launched with a big bang and fire, and the ceremony ends with a spectacular fireworks display.
The show takes about one hour and a half and is always a memorable experience. It is also worth mentioning that earlier that day, Mošćenička Draga will host the first Exhibition of Carnival Flags of various carnival towns, which will be an excellent overture to this show.