A single firecracker explodes, its fiery tails plummeting down to the Grand Canal. Its echoing noise bidding farewell to the day and welcoming the festive night to come. The last of the sun vanishes along the horizon as the beautiful full moon comes into sight. Lovers kiss on the Rialto, a gondolier paddles by, a baby cries in the distance. The shopkeepers pack their things and file into the labyrinthian streets of Venice as the sweltering day comes to an end and gives birth to a carnival.
An array of colored lights begin to flicker as if the circus is rolling into town. A troop of harlequins enter from the left, wearing animated masks and galloping through the silent streets. It is then that the city comes alive. Children run out on the streets, their sparklers crackling like a bonfire, their endearing smiles aimed at the man with the gelato cart.
More firecrackers go off, and an array of saxophones and guitars provide the night with a soundtrack fit for a Woody Allen movie.
Young lovers sit on the edge of the canal, their bare feet skimming the surface of the sparkling waters below. The man looks into the woman’s eye, chuckles, and lightly kisses her cheek. The smell of fresh gelato and steaming Italian coffee fills the air as people line up to grab one last snack to put an end to their day.
The band plays on. The harlequins and jesters dance. The children play. The lovers kiss.
On the corner is an older man, hands tucked in his navy blue sweater as he gazes into the horizon. His face is emotionless. He gets up and walks towards the canal, his feeble hand trembling as he reaches for the pocket of his neatly pressed khaki pants. He pulls out a coin and gently tosses it into the water, closes his eyes, and makes a wish.
The night is a masquerade, painted with the costumes of Halloween, the warmth of Christmas, the romance of Valentine’s Day, and the hope of New Year’s. It brings people together like the coldest of winters, while setting them free like the most beautiful summers. It is a time to reflect, to wonder, to love, and to dream.