Antigua’s summer festival got under way Saturday with thousands of colourfully adorned revellers and participants taking part in a street parade that was witnessed by spectators who thronged the streets to view the widely anticipated event.
The t-shirt mas’ group saw an increase of six new bands for this year and Minister of Culture, Paul “Chet” Greene, said the numbers were up across the board.
He called on the public to show support at all of this year’s carnival events.
Speaking at the opening on Saturday, Minister Greene commended the outgoing Carnival Development Committee (CDC) Chairman Kayode O’Marde, the sub-committees, patrons, contestants and all other participants for showing continued support to carnival.
“I want to thank you all for the role you have played in bringing Carnival 2014 to (Saturday’s) opening. Fifty-seven years ago those who blazed the trail did not have the beauty of this edifice or t-shirt mas’ to open Carnival …,” Greene said.
O’Marde who has held the post for the last three years noted that given that general elections was held so close to the annual event, affected the festival from a planning and financial point of view, but sought to see the positives.
“Maybe we are now being given the opportunity to put election behind us and move forward together in unity as one people; jumping, waving and participating in the Caribbean’s greatest summer festival. Let’s leave the divisive mentality that an election can bring, behind and move forward positively supporting this festival and our country,” the chairman said.
The brief ceremony at House of Culture included speeches from O’Marde and title sponsor for the opening parade – Scotiabank – made by Country Manager Gordon Julien.
There were a few reported scuffles, but no police reports of anyone being seriously injured.