Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Downtown Carnival remains hopeful

Published:Thursday | February 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/ Gleaner Writer
Revellers at a Downtown Carnival event at 121 Windward Road, East Kingston last Sunday. Oneil Smith, one of the organisers of the event used this medium to showcase some of the customers to be on parade for the road march. Digicel is also part sponsor.
O'Neil Smith (centre), one of the organisers of Downtown Carnival, hanging out with some promotional girls.

As the dancehall-soca song by Trevor Off Key and Allison Hinds says, 'it's never too late for carnival', and Downtown Carnival promoter, O'Neil Smith, trusts that having a positive outlook will bring forth a road march in the heart of Kingston on Easter Monday (April 2).

The planning of the street parade in 2017 was put on hold after one of the promoters, Jason Forrester passed away early last year which left the Downtown Carnival team with no other option but to cancel.

"Maybe if he (Jason) was alive, the event would have gone on as planned. He was also the most financially stable of the team," Smith told The Gleaner.

The spirits of the team members were also broken by the tragic and unexpected incident.


Budget Cut


Twelve months later, Smith finds himself the last man standing.

"We realised that a lot of money has been spent out of pocket and very few members of Corporate Jamaica are not coming on board."

Nonetheless, he is hopeful that some amount of assistance will be obtained over the next few weeks.

"I cannot stress enough that the Downtown carnival-related events are what opened up the Waterfront again to persons since it started 18 years ago," Smith said.

The Downtown Carnival route usually leaves from Victoria Avenue between South Camp Road and Elletson Road. From there, it moves on to Parade, Orange Street to Heroes Circle, before taking a turn on King Street to make its way to the Waterfront for the final fÍte.

Downtown Carnival transpired out of the Miss Inner City Youth and Talent contest, hosted at the Ward Theatre during a time of uprisings, border and community wars, as a way to continue that message of community togetherness. Promoters also visited various inner-city areas to see if there was an interest in having a similar event to the 'uptown' carnival.

Past sponsors include Digicel Jamaica, the Rough Rider condom brand through Cari-Med Limited, Ammar's, Bacchanal Jamaica, and Pepsi.

Right now, Smith says, "nothing is sure, as nobody has expressed an interest, even with the good impression Downtown Carnival has made", but with the feedback he is receiving from residents of various communities, Smith does not want to disappoint by cancelling Downtown Carnival for another year.