Here’s to a most delightful Carnival 2019

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Today is the official beginning of Carnival 2019, and we here at NEWSCO Ltd take this opportunity to wish all Antiguans and Barbudans, and the many visitors who will take part in this year’s festivities, a most enjoyable one. Here’s hoping that responsible drinking will be the order of the day; that restraint and good judgment will prevail when driving, or in situations that have the potential to become volatile and end badly.

Here’s also hoping that the mas’ and music will be of the highest caliber (most of the offerings are first-class); that the police will be out in full force, patrolling the streets and maintaining law and order; that the judging of the various competitions will be beyond reproach; that the vendors, and all those who work behind the scenes to make our carnival special, will be paid forthwith; that the winners will not have to wait forever for their prize monies.

Of course, we are also exhorting all carnival-goers to be vigilant and take extra precautions such as reducing the visibility of valuables in their vehicles, and parking in well-lit areas. To the extent that they are able to car-pool with friends and loved ones to the various shows, that is a desirable option. One should always walk to one’s car with a companion, especially if parked at a distance from Carnival City.

Hopefully, the miscreants who get off on preying on the good citizens of our fair state at this time of year, will put that foolishness and criminality behind them. Barring that, we are calling on law enforcement to prosecute all hooliganism and theft to the fullest extent of the law. There ought not to be a repeat of the nonsense that prevailed after the Redeye event last week where several cars were broken into and many items of value stolen.

In the meantime, even as we gear up for what promises to be a most exciting Carnival, we cannot help but cast our minds back to The Mighty Bambi who was a fixture at carnival, and whose singing, dancing and exuberance embodied that joie de vivre that should be the essence of this time of year. Bambi was carnival! Would that we could all enjoy carnival with his gusto and self-same gay abandon. It is certainly not difficult to imagine that he is raising a joyful ruckus over there in the Great Beyond! Any bacchanal, Bambi has to be involved!

Sadly, the sudden illness of our very own Ava ‘Sassy’ Charles-Mckenzie has cast a pall over this year’s events. Sassy, too, embodied the spirit of carnival. She was a calypsonian, and a damn good one at that; a mistress of ceremonies and a radio host and producer here at Observer in its earlier iteration. Up until a few days before she was stricken, Sassy was heavily involved in our Dave Lester Payne’s GOLDEN EYE CALYPSO tent. Her vivacious personality and her terrific sense of humour will be missed this year. Of course, she will be in our fondest thoughts and most fervent prayers.

Interestingly, at this grand opening of Carnival 2019, we thought that we’d share the opening day carnival message delivered by His Honour, the Administrator of Antigua, Mr. I.G. Turbott in 1960. Said he: “Carnival has now become part of Antigua’s history. This will be the second carnival that my family and I have been fortunate enough to join. 1959 was a most enjoyable time and I know that 1960 aims to be better. Antiguans have a most delightful way of enjoying themselves; particularly at carnival time . . . the atmosphere on the island is one of fun and merriment, and I recall that last year’s celebrations were unmarred by any serious incidents. I know that this 1960 Carnival will be just as memorable in every way. . .”  Hmmm! Seems, our earlier remarks echo those of the good Administrator.

They also echo the sentiments of mas’ player, Rosemary, of Mighty Sparrow fame, who wrote a letter to the Almighty thusly in QUEEN OF DE BAND: “Dear Father this year, please don’t let them stop de carnival / Please give us this year, a sunny and peaceful festival / Please give us money, so that we can buy-up we mas’ clothes / And give us plenty-ah hot and peppy, jumpy calypso / So that we could jump up in de band / Drinking rum, hugging up we man / I remain yours truly, Queen of the Band!” With good folk like the veteran Alister Thomas of Ali and Associates donating free costumes to some eight and 15-year-old mas’ players, seems the prayer for financial assistance has been answered in some ways. Unfortunately, it is simply a shame that so many steelbands, like Hell’s Gate and Panache (last year’s champions, mind you) are still without sponsors. We believe that the corporate community could do better. After all, the pan men, soca artistes and calypsonians are doing their best to make sure that we have a “hot, peppy and jumpy carnival.” It is incumbent upon us all, working together, to make sure that this year, we have a “peaceful festival.” Be it so resolved!

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