Family members of nine-time King of Carnival Geraldo Vieira bear his casket after yesterday's
funeral service at St Theresa's RC Church in Barataria. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE
While the achievements of masman Geraldo Vieira were being extolled inside St Theresa's Roman Catholic Church, Malick, Barataria, yesterday, on the outside several of his lifelong friends were sharing stories of the man who they say loved life, his family, Carnival and having a good time.
And although tears flowed for the former nine-time King of Carnival there was a lot of laughter as his colleagues remembered how he made them laugh back in their youth.
Vieira succumbed to heart failure on September 22, leaving behind what many in the Carnival fraternity believe is a great legacy of mas production and presentation.
He was an innovator who while preserving the almost lost traditional crafts and skills involved in creating mas costumes, incorporated into his creations the latest in digital technology to enhance whatever he was portraying.
That, said National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) president David Lopez, was what always kept Vieira ahead in the art form.
The mas fraternity came out in their numbers to say farewell to Vieira, packing the church to capacity and spilling out to the courtyard.
At the entrance to the church there was a large flat-screen television with photographs of Vieira from his youth to not long before his passing. Also shown were images of the costumes, both kings and queens, he designed and built over the years.
Vieira was born in Barataria in 1938 and grew up with a passion for Carnival arts and the creation of form and structure. In 1959 he began his mas-making career in earnest, learning how to do wire bending and other craft from renowned masman Cito Valesquez.
They produced the band titled Fruits and Flowers that year, with Valesquez doing the fruits and Vieira creating the flowers.
A master structural engineer and very inventive designer, Vieira went on to work with other Carnival greats including Harold Saldenah, Hilton Cox, Stephen Lee Heung, Peter Minshall and Wayne Berkley.
Along with masmen with whom Vieira had worked and played with since his youth, the funeral was attended by members of the NCBA executive, of which Vieira was a part up to the time of his passing.
Also paying respects was former minister of culture Joan Yuille Williams, Minister of The Arts and Multiculturalism Lincoln Douglas and bandleaders Brian MacFarlane, Rosalind Gabriel, Trevor Wallace and artist/calypsonian Bill Trotman.