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Sep 7, 2012

Carnival’s Flamboyant History

In the first two parts of our carnival series, we focused on the birth of the local carnival in the seventies and relived the big moment when the groups participated in the Miami Carnival. As the years went by, the costumes have become more elaborate, intricate and in some instances particularly revealing.  Most observers will agree that the cultural dimension is the biggest attraction to the carnival. News Five’s Delahnie Bain wraps up the final segment of the carnival series.


Delahnie Bain, Reporting

The costumes are the highlight of carnival for both the bands and the spectators, but not everyone is onboard with the skimpy outfits that have now become popular. Soli Arguelles is one of them; as one of the original organizers, she says the carnival isn’t quite what she had hoped it would become. She is especially concerned about the junior dancers.


Soli Arguelles

Soli Arguelles, Original Organizer, Carnival

“This is not what we wanted. We don’t need to copy the Caribbean, we don’t need to get into all of that. I think we can produce something much more real with dignity and that is my contention right now. At one point in time, Carolyn Trench and myself and a couple of others that were interested, wanted to put some rules and regulations down. But we can’t seem to get the kids to make them not dance the way they do and I personally can’t see why parents allow it. It’s a horrible thing that we’re coming to. And today, with so much child molestation, if we allow these kids to go out there and perform the way we’re doing it, then we’re looking to drop into the deepest hole that we can’t come out as a nation.”


Lawrence Vernon

Lawrence Vernon, Researcher

“You would have the more conservative groups of people in any society who object to what you call semi nudity on the streets as a display, especially among the children and I was proud to see some years ago, NCFC put down some rules that the children should not perform in any lewd manner. I personally feel that the human body was designed for movement and if you want to display a certain culture in public on the streets and it involves body movements, then I would have no objections to that.  I have only been a spectator and a researcher on the subject and I have seen the development to be a very positive move to maintain our culture, especially as I mentioned, we depict various aspects of Belize, we have themes and this in itself is a sort of education for the people who observe the carnival parades and it’s something that I know that people look forward to and its most likely the biggest highlight of the September celebrations because you can see from the amount of crowds that it draws that it is a movement that has remained with us.”


Karen also says that in following the regulations of the National Committee for Families and Children, they ensure that the minors dress and dance age appropriately.


Karen Vernon

Karen Vernon, Carnival Reveler

“We have tried to make it so that it’s a totally separate carnival for the juniors and the seniors. It’s a clear separation you know the juniors start out, there are floats in between and then the seniors come behind. And you know we have mas camp visits where we take around the judges and we take somebody from NCFC and we have rules that they have to follow and they have to be covered up a certain way and we make sure that’s happening and the kids are out there dancing and we see how they’re dancing. Not to say that they won’t get out there carnival day and do something different that they aren’t supposed to do but we try our best to keep them in line with what children are supposed to be doing in the streets.”


So come September eighth, you can look out for both Karen and Misty in the road march. Both agree that working behind the scenes is not nearly as much fun as joining in and the enjoying the bacchanal.


Misty Williams

Misty Williams, Carnival Reveler

“It’s different watching than participating. I think one year the band did not come out and we had to stay on the sidelines to watch the carnival. And by the time we started—well I saw costumes and saw everybody gyrating and I felt like I was missing something. So from since then, the band came out the next year and when we came out with our own carnival band. From since then I have been in the carnival participating and I don’t ever want to be not in the road march right, participating. Of course I’m excited because I mean we have been preparing for such a long time and it’s a long wait to carnival day so—and you know carnival day is such a short time, just in a matter of hours and you’ve been preparing for so long. But it’s worth the wait, it was worth the wait and I am definitely looking forward to carnival day.”


Karen Vernon

“I’m going to be in carnival this year, yes I’m with Erotic Mas Band. It’s a non-competitive band so you know we’re back in. we haven’t been for the past two or three years so you know that’s exciting to be back in the band this year. But, organizing as you said, it’s a totally different level, you’re in the background and it’s a lot of work because you know each event entails its own area of logistics and that can be a lot of work.”


Lawrence Vernon

“This might be the thirty-seventh year of carnival; today we still have carnival for the children and also for the adults. I believe it has changed because in previous days, carnival to my mind was described as a movement and this was not seen in any other country really as a movement except in Belize because it was very unique to our culture at the time and we capitalized on that quite a lot to make it more cultural. And so today, when we talk about carnival, I believe this movement still exists although on a more elaborate scale.”


That movement has also expanded to include the king and queen competition and the highly anticipated Jouvert leading up to the road march.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Carnival’s Flamboyant History”

  1. fishcalledwanda says:

    ok i really want to know how dean barrow is responsible for the carnival…crazy rod tell me a story…

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