Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Gear up for road march 2021 - Carnival stakeholders promise supporters a vibrant return

Published:Monday | September 21, 2020 | 12:10 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Kamal Bankay (left), chairman of the Carnival in Jamaica stakeholders committee, sitting alongside Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism, at press conference COVID in March. ??
Kamal Bankay (left), chairman of the Carnival in Jamaica stakeholders committee, sitting alongside Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism, at press conference COVID in March. ??
 Michael Ammar Jr.
Michael Ammar Jr.
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Supporters of the annual Jamaica Carnival celebrations were left in limbo earlier this year when the announcement that 2020 carnival events would move from the original date in April to Sunday, October 25, due to the continued spread of the coronavirus. Refunds for costumes already paid for became a hot topic, but with the strict no-refund policy that most of the participating bands enforce, it appeared that individuals would have to wait to see how the pandemic would pan out.

“Obviously, with the current situation of COVID-19, not issuing permits, no entertainment events being held, at this stage in the final week of September, we would have needed to have a full 180-degree change to have carnival safely. With the impossibility of that happening, based on all the professional healthcare advice and discussions with other arms of government, we have no choice but to reschedule the date of our Carnival in Jamaica road march again from October 25, to April 11, which would have been the date set for 2021,” said Kamal Bankay, chairman of the Carnival in Jamaica stakeholders committee.

“We believe strongly we’ll be able to have it next year, with the world reaching back to some level of normality, we can follow suit once persons abide by the rules and stick to the necessary health and safety protocols for COVID-19.”

He said that it’s too early to predict if Carnival in Jamaica will surpass expectations for next year, but noted that all the bands involved are committed to their supporters and to having a safe carnival.

“When the proclamation is made that globally we have overcome the virus, whether through the production of a vaccine or by eradication, there is going to be non-stop celebrations and that will filter all over the world. In my opinion, people will cherish the opportunity to come out and party, but also see it is as a blessing. We were born or grow up being able to travel and party, it’s second nature, so people never imagined a world where you can’t do these things – social liberties are not automatic, so we need to cherish them,” Bankay expressed.

Tabanca

Bacchanal Jamaica’s Michael Ammar Jr said that despite persons experiencing tabanca, added to the losses stemming from the cancellation of the road march and associated events, Jamaicans must focus on the positives.

“We are just as disappointed as you are. Any card can play in the next six to seven months leading up to our 2021 carnival celebrations; if they come out with quick tests or the vaccine scientists have been working on, either way, if the numbers locally, and in our major markets — US, Canada and Europe — will start trending down, I think one thing people will be starving for, is our carnival,” said the co-director of the 20-year-old band.

“This is an unprecedented pandemic never experienced by our generation and we are erring on the side of precaution that we could never put on a mass festival, as we remain mindful of our social responsibility. Keep healthy and see you in April for a vibrant 2021 celebration.”

It is true that all three bands, Bacchanal Jamaica, Xodus and Xaymaca International, would have already had plans to launch their new themes and designs in preparation for the 2021 staging of Carnival in Jamaica immediately after this year’s celebrations, but in light of the cancellation, they will honour all tickets and costumes purchased for 2020. It was communicated that most costumes would have been made, with finishing touches, such as feathering, left for last.

Andrew Bellamy, CEO of Xaymaca International, told The Gleaner, “This delay gives all stakeholders an opportunity to work on investing more creative juices into making our carnival experience more Jamaican and unique, including more of our rich culture,” for next year’s carnival and for years to come. “Xaymaca is ready to provide a unique and unforgettable carnival experience for our masqueraders whenever it is safe to execute the road march, so we are completely aligned with Minister Bartlett’s decision to postpone Carnival in Jamaica until April 2021.”

Dream Entertainment Limited, the company behind the Xodus Carnival band, may have suffered the greatest loss with many of its events, including Dream Weekend in Jamaica and New York, taking a hard hit; but the company’s managing director, Scott Dunn, reassured that this does not affect the performance and dedication of his team to providing the best service to their supporters.

“We have always delivered and we will continue to, once allowed the opportunity to. Our message to our Xodus family is not to lose faith in our band, and, most importantly, stay safe,” Dunn said.