Forty-nine years ago, residents of the Panama Canal Zone were gearing up for Carnival festivities.
An article entitled “Carnival Time is Here” published on February 21, 1963 in The Panama Canal Spillway, the official bilingual publication of the Panama Canal, Balboa Heights, Canal Zone reads: “Carnival music is in the air, North Americans and Panamanians walk with a Carnival tilt to their steps, and Carnival events take top listing the next few days from one end of the isthmus to the other.”
Events included the pre-Carnival dance at Fort Amador Officers Open Mess and the Balboa High School Carnival dance at the Tivoli guest center. Large parties were also planned for the coronation of the Carnival queens: Vilma Henry for the Canal Zone Pacific side at the Santa Cruz Civic Center and Lauray Will for the Atlantic side at the Breakers Club in Coco Solo, with dancing to Ambassador Orchestra and the Conjunto Tipico music scheduled until 4 a.m.
Also listed on the Spillway’s calendar of events was a Pollera Parade along Avenida Central on February 24 and the Carnival Parade from Panama through the Canal Zone at 4:30 p.m. on February 26.
Zonians, or residents of the former U.S. Canal Zone, were granted a “liberal leave” policy for the four-day celebrations.