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Sep 2, 2015

Mas Camp Fever Kicks off in Belize City

Carnival 2015 is quickly approaching with the King and Queen Competition coming up this Saturday and the spectacular road march set for September twelfth.  On Tuesday night, the first round of judging of the mas camps got under way at different spots in the City. The bands are being judged on creativity and construction of the pieces.  Already the energy and vibes of the carnival could be felt by Duane Moody, who made his rounds at five spots.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Preparations for the 2015 Carnival Road March started earlier this year, but everyone knows that the carnival season gets into full swing with the start of the mas camps. A kaleidoscope of colors, choreographed movements and revelers bursting with energy; the bacchanal surrounding these events simply foreshadow what is to be expected on the day of the road march on September twelfth.

 

Sandra Mahler, President, Carnival Association

Sandra Mahler

“We have the judges going around to the different ma camps to judge the costumes and to make constructive criticism or to give them advice of how to better make their costumes for the road march and for King and Queen which is this Saturday. What we are doing this year is that we’ve decided to bring in all international judges because from every year that we have the mas camp and King and Queen and the road march, we take the advice from the band leaders because they are the ones who make carnival happen. And they have been asking for international judges. So this year we said we’ll have five internal judges—three for mas camp, three for King and Queen and the entire three along with two others for road march.”

 

Day one of the three-day event took us to King Street for the Rampage Mas Band. A group of forty-six relatives make up this senior band that is competing for a second year in carnival.

 

Anthony Tucker

Anthony Tucker, Band Leader, Rampage Mas Band

“Our theme for this year is Gatekeepers of this Realm which is the concept of good versus evil. We have our first section which is gold and white that are the angels that come to help Queen Lumina, which is the Guardian of Light and Life. She is then bitten by the venomous serpents, who is the green and red that bleeds from the land and then she dies. So she is dragged to hell by King Dracius, which is the God of Darkness and Death.”

 

Several blocks away on Handyside Street in the Fort George area, Amanda Taylor’s Evolution Mas Band was pumped. Their third stint in the carnival, Taylor is taking the spectators and judges to Africa.

 

Amanda Taylor, Band Leader, Evolution Mas Band

Amanda Taylor

“This we will be portraying true leaders of Africa. One section is a tribute to Nelson Mandela and the other section is an ancient African queen, Queen Anna, Queen of Mataba. Both are similar because they both fight for freedom and peace.”

 

Duane Moody

“Talk to us about what you guys are doing to set yourselves aside from the other bands.”

 

Amanda Taylor

“Well, definitely our theme sets us aside from every other band because we are not focusing on Belize. We are trying to do something different and bring something new to the table.”

 

We then headed over to Pickstock…the only junior band for the night. As the primary school-aged revelers danced away on Pickstock Street, back at the Jungle, Band Leader Garreth Gill made his presentation to the three judges. His team this year is Glimpse of Belize.

 

Gareth Gill

Gareth Gill, Band Leader, Pickstock Carnival Band

“The first section…when we enter Belize we either come on land…when we look down we see water. If we come through boat, we look down, we also see the water. So we say Belize has a beautiful water, but what is in the water, our second largest barrier reef with our corals and fishes. So we decided to stop and look at something positive. Belize has a lot to offer. We say let’s come out of the water and come on land. When we come on land, we say let’s join as a culture. Which culture we want to be? Is it the Chinese, the Garifuna or the Creole? We already join either culture. And then we said let’s go way down to Belize and the forest. You see the jaguars and the different birds—we wonder—it is a wildlife sanctuary. The forest is so beautiful, it is so significant.”

 

Our fourth stop for the night took us up the Phillip Goldson Highway to Wing Stop. There, Belizean American Ashman Wilshire was more than prepared when the caravan arrived. His band, Belizean United, is competing for the first time locally and he is hoping that he is bringing something new to the road march.

 

Ashman Wilshire, Band Leader, Belizean United

“Well the theme for my band is the Last World Kingdom and the theme consists of a King, a Queen, a Mistress and a Child. We actually have four segments, it was supposed to be five; however, because of the lack of sponsorship, we cut it down to four sections. First section represents the mistress, she is leading the pack. Second section represents the king, the third section represents the queen and the fourth section represents the witch doctor.”

 

Duane Moody

“It is the first time that you guys are competing. Talk to us about that.”

 

Ashman Wilshire

“Well I originally started dancing carnival for many years. Here in Belize, I won carnival king several times. Since I left Belize, we actually developed a Belizean carnival group in Los Angeles and we started competing in a lot of carnival. We won a lot of titles out there and this year I just wanted to bring it back home where it all started.”

The final stop for the night was Fantasy Explosion Mas Band, the brainchild of the Ottley family. Band Leader, Shadine Ottley spoke of the theme going into the 2015 Carnival Season.

 

Shadine Ottley, Band Leader, Fantasy Explosion Carnival Mas Band

“Fantasy Explosion, we are basically bringing Hollywood—hit movies, cinematic movements, vibrant colors; excitement. You guys can look out for that carnival day.”

 

Duane Moody

“Talk to us about the different segments that you guys have and how you came up with the theme.”

 

Shadine Ottley

“We basically had everything surrounding the name fantasy. As you know, fantasy is basically fulfilling your weirdest imagination so we thought by bringing these cinematic movies, all the kids…we are targeting the young, the old and the in between.”

 

With nine more bands to go, Channel Five is your all access pass to mas camp 2015. Duane Moody for News Five.

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