Letters & Opinion

St. Lucian Carnival: Nothing Sweeter Than That

Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E
By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

CARNIVAL is the national cultural Showpiece of St. Lucia. Aa far as I can remember, the activity has always attracted the attention of people in the region and worldwide. And Carnival 2023 was no exception.

Carnival provides the opportunity for persons in the Arts to display their work of art. In fact, it is the mixture of several aspects of the St. Lucian culture.

Some of the national carnival activities included Calypso, Panorama, Queen Pageant, King and Queen of the bands, Kiddies Carnival and two days of pageantry on a Monday and Tuesday in July.

As a youngster, I remember lining the Marchand Road from at 12:30 p.m. on carnival Monday and Tuesday for the spectacle.

Masterpieces in the earlier years came from bandleaders like Cuthbert Anthony, Secra Gibson, Steve, Ishmael, Euralis Bouty; there was also the Turks Carnival Band and the Cane Cutters.

Presently, there is a Carnival Band Association which includes bands like Fuzion Mas, Red Carnival Band, Legends Carnival Band, Tribe of Twel, Just for Fun among others.

Panorama is one of the early activities. And over the last few years, I have been attending this activity because my young grandsons played for the band Pan time. Indeed, several young persons were involved in playing pan. They are in larger numbers now, more than ever before. There was a high level of organization and presentation. I emphasize presentation because during the activity one could have heard the announcement informing patrons of the main exits in case of an emergence. And the exits were well marked. The announcements also informed patrons of the location of toilets. It was the first time that I was hearing these announcements at any carnival activity. Well done panorama organizers!

As it relates to Calypso, once again the activity was well organized. The tents, semi-finals and finals have always attracted a large number of patrons. Calypsonians had the opportunity to demonstrate the art form in word and music.

In earlier years, the calypso competition was held at the Havana Club in Marchand and then it was moved to the Geest Banana Shed on the waterfront.

The Carnival Queen Pageant or Queen Show was another well-organized activity. This year’s activity was particularly interesting with the introduction of television screens which carried pertinent information.

Once again, young women had the opportunity to show intelligence, demonstrate talent and show-off beauty. This activity was well supported by sponsors and attended by members of the community. Usually, the carnival queen would be called upon to represents St. Lucia in pageants regionally and internationally and are involved in activities locally.

Over the years, the King and Queen of the band’s activity has not attracted a very large crowd, like those that could be seen at the calypso and queen show. But I can tell you that the activity has produced several pieces of art, master pieces of costume which took much thought, time and skill.

Both the Queen show and King and Queen show have previously been held at the Geest Banana shed and the Mindoo Philip Park.

We come now to the two days of Carnival Pageantry held on carnival Monday and Tuesday. It is an opportunity to demonstrate craft and culture of St. Lucia.

Over the years, the carnival in St.Lucia has attracted many people in the region and internationally. I can recall many Vincentians coming to our shores to celebrate the cultural activity.

Now, thousands of people come from countries near and far to celebrate carnival. During interviews on Carnival Tuesday, many people express their desire and joy at participating in Lucian Carnival. Indeed, Lucian Carnival creates the impetus for revelry; parties, drinking and dancing, which people generally and Lucians in particular enjoy.

In the last few years, pageantry has turned out to be nudity at its best. We now have what is called the “bum bum wall” where the ladies choose to show-off their behinds. Many St. Lucians are unhappy about the bum bum wall and what goes on there. While we understand and can tolerate the gyrating on carnival Monday and Tuesday, we certainly can do without the “bum bum wall”.

In my many years of viewing carnival, I have seen many beautiful bands and artistic costume designs. We can start with Tony Ishmael who lived on Brazil Street, then Secra Gibson, Steve, and Cuthbert Anthony. In fact, for some years, I jumped with Steve and then Cuthbert Anthony.

Indeed, the bodies of revellers in those bands were well covered and Secra would run away with the band of the year, year after year.

I want to take the opportunity to congratulate the band leader and members of the Tribe of Twel, for their costumes and portrayals. They almost made a clean sweep this year. And if they continue in the way that they do, the band will take over from where Secra Gibson stopped. Congratulations, Tribe of Twel.

Let me take the opportunity to congratulate the Ministry of Culture, the chairperson of the Carnival Development Committee, the Royal St. Lucia Police Force, the doctors and nurses and ambulances which were on stand-by , and everyone who contributed to the great success of carnival 2023.

Special mention of the men and women of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force. In St. Lucia we have been experiencing a spate of violence and crime. And the population was really frightened about participating in or viewing Carnival 2023.

But these men and women could be seen everywhere during the carnival season and in particular, Carnival Monday and Tuesday. And the community responded with support. The is the ideal opportunity to rebuild a good relationship between the police and the community to fight crime and violence.

Well done RSLPF! I also noted that they have officially thanked the public for working with them during the carnival season.

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