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Clean fun for Kingston Kids Carnival

Published:Thursday | January 22, 2015 | 4:27 PMSadeke Brooks
Richard Martin
The child is seen amidst revellers, during children's day of the Notting Hill Carnival, London.

While one expects heavy gyrating and adult music at carnival events in Jamaica, selector Richard 'Richie D' Martin is promoting clean and safe fun for children when he hosts Kingston Kids Carnival at Hope Gardens, St Andrew, in March.

Carnival is usually a place for skimpy costumes, dancing and music of a sexual nature. For many years, Jamaica also had a kiddies carnival, but that was eventually discontinued.

However, on March 28, Martin will bring back a carnival for kids to Jamaican shores, but he insists that it will be a child-friendly version.

"No 'wining' or any form of slackness. No songs that are derogatory," he told The Gleaner.

The selector, who plays at many soca events, says he has already gone through a number of songs and has selected 70 songs that he says will be played on the day. He said the DJs will be able to play from this list of songs "that have nothing to do with wining."

Martin explained that for years, his friends would bring their children to watch the Bacchanal Road March and the children were always amazed by the costumes, and he wanted them to experience that.

"All my friends and their kids go out and watch the road march. The children love the costumes. In seeing that, I thought of it and someone suggested that I do one for the kids," Martin said.

But, he insists that the Kingston Kids Carnival will have nothing of an adult nature and there will be constant supervision from the teachers with the ratio being one teacher to four children.

"I chose Hope Gardens for the safety of the kids. I will have certified teachers as chaperones, to ensure there is no rude behaviour or any physical contact. They (children) will be warned before and the parents will be told as well," he said, adding that there will also be a T-shirt band for parents.

And if a child breaks the rules, he said he or she will be warned. But if the incident is repeated, the child will be ejected from the road march.

In addition, Martin said the event will be an educational one with the theme being 'Out of Many, One Carnival'. He said the event will be a cultural one with the children wearing costumes - African, Chinese and Indian - that highlight aspects of the Jamaican culture.

"We will be educating the kids about the culture as well. Throughout the day, the kids will be hearing historical information and they will get a brochure beforehand," he said, adding that the costumes will be designed by Rosalind Gabriel, who has 30 years of experience in designing kids' costumes.

On the day, the children will also be able to enjoy a pre-party with face-painting and other forms of entertainment. For the road march, Martin also plans to include floats and a steel band. He says he also wants to have a segment where the children are able to parade on stage and be judged on their costumes and presentation and receive prizes.

Martin added that he has also met with the principal for the Hope Valley Experimental School and some of those students will be included in the road march. He says he will sponsor their costumes and will make a donation to the school afterwards.

But for the first staging, Martin said he will accommodate a maximum of 300 children between five and 13 years old.

"I don't want it to be more than that since it is our first year. I want to manage it first, then we can take it from there," he said, noting that persons have already been registering on the website,


"I just want it to be a safe and fun activity for the children and, moving forward, for it to be the ultimate children's event."