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Aug 30, 2002

Carnival posse celebrate mass camp style

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It’s one of the most anticipated activities of the September celebrations: Carnival. The music, the dancing and especially those bright and daring costumes captivate Belizean spectators year after year. This time around, organisers have made a few changes to the event, but as News 5′s Jacqueline Woods found out, the fun and excitement is alive and kicking.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

This year’s carnival may not have the number of bands…or revellers as in previous road marches but the celebration promises to be just as colourful and lively.

Leroy Green, Chairman, Pullali Carnival Committee

“So it’s just not the road march, it’s that feeling of celebration, that feeling of unity, that feeling of just having fun, that feeling of release of pressure at least for one day. We find all sorts of people dancing in carnival, we have people who work with the Belize City Council, up to office workers and so on and everybody become one for that one day and just let loose.”

Several months ago, the bands started working on their props and costumes. The preparation is time-consuming and most of what is accomplished is largely due to the dedication of the bandleaders and helpers. For these volunteers, the effort is a labour of love that finds them tirelessly working into the wee hours of the morning…all in attempt to keep the annual festivity alive.

Molly Castillo, Band Leader, Fresh Breeze

“Actually we started about five months ago, we started off pretty early. It took a lot of planning, we got a lot of magazines and got our stuff together, came up with the ideas along with some of the parents and so from the kids.”

Marina Welcome, Band Leader, Jump Street Posse

“The reason why I started from March is because I do my costumes by myself, so it takes more time. When you have more help, you can start like June, July, but by myself I have to start from March.”

Jacqueline Woods

“Now this is your first try at carnival, what has the experience been like?”

Lydia Avila, Band Leader, Mahogany Masqueraders

“Very, very nice, but it’s a bit stressful I must say. I’ve lost a lot of sleep, but with the lot of support and help I’m getting from everybody, I must say thanks. But first time I was even thinking about backing out, I was even thinking about not coming out next year. But with the support from the media and so forth, maybe I will if I get another sponsor.”

Carnival 2002 is managed by the committee, Pullali. Pullali is made up of representatives from the bands and the Belize Tourism Board. The name symbolises the diverse blend of carnival bands celebrating the 21st anniversary of Belize’s Independence.

Leroy Green

“Carnival started way back from the days of slavery. It was a celebration where the masters and the slaves came together for one day and everybody just let loose of all their inhibitions and had fun and felt a spirit of togetherness.”

It is in that spirit of solidarity that committee decided to drop the competitive aspect of the road march.

Janine Ebanks-Alpuche, BTB Representative

“I think next week Saturday you should definitely expect a carnival that is bigger and better and definitely people will be out there all hyped up and dancing. It’s definitely going to be a show. I’m sure they’re going to put off a show, no doubt in my mind.”

For past eighteen years, Marina Welcome has been involved in carnival. Her group, Jump Street Posse, has won a number of competitions. Even though this year, there is no big cash prize to win this year, Welcome says it has not put a damper on the preparations.

Marina Welcome

“Same pressure. You got through the same, same thing if you want to come out looking good. It’s the same lot of hard work, it’s the same stress you’re going through to make money to get the costumes together; its no different.”

On Thursday night, the committee visited the various band camps to see the work in progress.

Janine Ebanks-Alpuche

“This is where the BTB staff goes around with the media and take them to the different camp sites where we’ll meet the carnival masqueraders working on their costumes. They’re diligently at work into the wee hours of the morning, so it’s a chance for them to display their costumes so that the media could see. And they could go on the radio and tell everybody how they look and get hyped and come out on carnival day and celebrate.”

The bands’ presentations will depict the carnival theme, Carnival: Then, Now and Tomorrow.

Marina Welcome

“For carnival then, we’re doing the original Jump Street Posse; that’s the first costume that I ever did. Carnival now, we’ll be representing Coyote Uprising. Carnival tomorrow is the Dawn of India.”

Lydia Avila

“This first time carnival band will be depicting the three different themes. Then, the Creoles, now, the Indians and tomorrow the Chinese.”

Barbara Hyde, Band Leader, Legacy

“First of all, we have beautiful, wonderful colours, excitement, young vibrant themes and we will be presenting carnival then and carnival now.”

Jacqueline Woods

“Tell us about the costumes.”

Barbara Hyde

“This is carnival then, displaying culture. We have fruits, we have colours, we have a mixture Belizean people coming together enjoying themselves. Carnival now, new explosion, fireworks, everything.”

With or without their costumes, these junior and senior band members showed they were more than ready to party through the city streets.

Molly Castillo

“Believe me, they’re very prepared. Just wait till the music gets on outside and you’ll see they’re a very active group. Everyday they come to workout, they come at my door, Miss Molly when you’re gonna start workout. They’re very, very energetic.”

Dorla Vaughan, Band Leader, Black Pearl

“You could expect a lot of colours, a lot of energy from the children.”

Jacqueline Woods

“You have a bigger group this year?”

Dorla Vaughan

“Not really, this year it’s only forty kids.”

Janine Ebanks-Alpuche

“They are wonderful, I seen them, they’re very impressive. The hard work that they’re putting into the costumes are really paying off.”

Reporting for News 5, Jacqueline Woods

If you would like to see the costumes, the carnival bands will be holding a presentation at Saturday’s Dance and Cultural Bram at the Princess Hotel poolside. On Saturday, September seventh, the carnival roadmarch is scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m. from the Yarborough Green. The procession will then make its way down Central American Boulevard, over the Belcan Bridge, onto Princess Margaret Drive and Newtown Barracks, ending at the B.T.L. Park.

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