Carnival Was Colourful, Fun and Loud
Carnival Special Report: 12 days of
music, boat racing,
beach picnics, fireworks,
street dancing, shows, contests, parading,
children's games, and
crafts. Now everyone needs a good rest.
Carnival is the one time in Anguilla when almost
no work gets done.
It starts on Thursday night with an opening ceremony
and a fireworks display, and for 1997 a visiting troupe of amazing
street dancers from Philadelphia.
It ends over a week later with Last Lap street jammin'.
There are three types of event during Carnival week:
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Monday Morning at sunrise is J'ouvert (zhu-vay), one of the most fun events of Carnival, one that is free and open to everyone. Three local bands on huge semi-truck trailers set out from Carnival Village, and gather following crowds of dancing fans. As you can see, each truck is a wall of amplifiers and the sound is incredible. Helpers ride on top with sticks to push up the telephone wires as the bands pass underneath. Suggested dress for serious dancers is runners and aerobics suit, with a hand towel to wipe away the sweat. Consider cotton balls for your ears (it can be loud).
J'ouvert started at 5:45am. By 7am The Valley
is packed by dancers and onlookers. I even saw my
summer student employee splayed out riding on the
back of a band truck, ears right in the huge amplifiers.
The bands do several loops through The Valley's main roads. Last Lap, the following Monday at
is a similar event, except that everyone
is more tired a week later and the action is wilder
in the dark.
There are boat races almost every day, starting on Monday, when De Chan won the A class (these are the biggest and most important boats). Here is UFO sailing victorious into its home village of Island Harbour on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Stinger was the winner and on Thursday at Meads Bay, UFO won again.
The Champion of Champions boat race is held at Sandy Ground on Sunday. The winners of all the previous Class A races gather for a final contest. A large crowd gathered on the beach to eat, drink, talk, gamble, play dominos and watch the start and finish of the race.
The first boat to touch the flag on a bouy
in the middle of the harbour is the winner:
today it was Light and Peace. The crowd
was unusually quiet at the finish -- perhaps they had bet on another boat.
Parade of Troupes
Hundreds of people in fancy costumes parade and dance to music, organzied into competing troupes. To start there are more troupe members than spectators, but as the troupes make their way around The Valley, the crowds grow. The winning troupe was organized by Sheila Harrigan Davis.
Naturally the winners of the Prince and Princess show (from the primary schools) are in the parade, plus Miss Talented Teen, the Carnival Queen, and the Calypso Monarch. This parade is great fun. It starts at the baseball field and goes up Coronation to Barclays Bank, then over Rey Hill to the Airport and back into The Valley.
There are about 6 or 7 troupes and they vary in size, style, and complexity of costume and presentation. There were even troupes of cute school children in home made costumes. Several of the troupes were accompanied by amplified bands on huge trucks. One troupe included colorful stilt walkers and another troupe was dressed all in Army fatigues!
Saturday afternoon is the Kids N'Karnival, a free entertainment for children in the Carnival Village. There were races, pony rides, crafts, art, a bouncing room and live entertainment.
Lady Salsa, a group of 12 lady musicians
from Cuba, performed on Sunday Night at
Carnival Village, and
again on Monday night at the Red Dragon Disco.
Atlantik Show Band from Trinidad performed
at the last
show on Sunday night. Be warned. These shows are not
for the weak. Sometimes the headline group
doesn't even start until 3am.
won the Calypso Monarch crown again this year with
Must Rise Again". The big crowd loved it.
All the seats were taken and people were standing
10 to 20 deep all around the area.
Calypso is recitative singing with a moral/political/social message, sort of a talking song or Caribbean rap. There isn't any Harry Belafonte singing "Day'O" or Calypso dancing. And it is a form of poetry much loved by West Indians.
During the calyspo contest, Sandy Ground was empty
of locals. Johnnos just had a crowd of pale tourists
waiting for the band to arrive. All the action
was in The Valley that night. Sandy Ground is not
going to liven up until the show in Carnival
Village is over, which is seldom before 1am.
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