Jamaicans head Miss Miami Broward Carnival pageant
Outgoing queen says pandemic reign was ‘bittersweet’
The next Miss Miami Broward Carnival will be crowned in a week at the Miramar Cultural Center for the Performing Arts in Florida. Caribbean women from across the state are competing for scholarships and other prizes, but most importantly, the title and opportunity to represent the diaspora. It is part of a series of events leading up to the annual Miami Broward Carnival celebration.
In its 14th annual year, the not-for-profit organisation is committed to showcasing Caribbean culture through song, dance, and theatre to women who migrated to the US as children and those born to Caribbean-born parents said pageant founder Yolanda Henry.
“It has definitely helped to bring the Caribbean diaspora together as the participants now have an outlet to showcase their talent. They also get the opportunity to meet and learn different cultures. They cultivate friendships with other young women from different countries, and the patrons that attend the show also leave more knowledgeable, learning something from them. It exists as a dynamic tool for self-expression and exploration, a tool to seek out our roots, a tool to develop new forms of looking at the world and our Caribbean and American cultures,” Henry told The Gleaner.
A couple of years ago, the organisers decided to introduce children into the running, having seen the impression the pageant queen made on youngsters, Henry explained. This year, there are 13 women competing, “and the majority are Jamaicans”, she said.
“It gives them an opportunity to learn their culture at an early age, some of them for the first time, hear and learn to dance to soca music, and they also get a direct peek at how their costumes are created,” she said.
Henry further shared that the deportment of all ladies as they participate in the area of talent, carnival costume display, modelling evening wear, as well as the question and answer segment is crucial.
“They are trained in all aspects, so when they are presented on stage, they are able to represent their island to the best of their ability.”
REPRESENTING THE CARIBBEAN
The queens, past and present, hail from all over, including Haiti, Jamaica, the US Virgin Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago. The reigning Miss Miami Broward Carnival, Tatyana Brown, was born to Jamaican parents originally from Westmoreland. She will hand over the crown to the woman selected at the end of the night, a moment that she already expects will be “bittersweet”.
The 25-year-old is a graduate of Florida International University, a former member of the Caribbean Students Association, and a dancer. Though serving in the pandemic presented difficulties, Brown conceptualised a programme to combine dance with mentorship for children. “[COVID-19] was something unknown when I won in September 2019. Naturally, it made it difficult for us in the first phase, but in the latter part of 2020, we were able to have drive-by outreach activities, and ultimately, what we wanted to do was to make sure our decision was the safest for the community,” Brown shared.
Junior Miss Gloria Cabrera, Pre-Teen Miss Jennesha Pierresant, and Little Miss Peytience McClendon will also pass on their crowns.
During the pageant winners’ reign, they attend all functions hosted by Miami Broward One Carnival as their grand marshal. Also, they are invited by different hosts to their Thanksgiving Day and Martin Luther King parades as their grand marshal. They attend all events hosted by the mayor and city commissioners in Miramar. They attend schools during Reading Day and read to the students. They help at relief efforts, assembling much-needed packages to ship to different countries, and get community service hours if they are high school students. If a Miami Carnival band sponsors them, they get to take part in the parade on carnival day, and also during the year, they attend functions like Caribbean Heritage Day, where they get to showcase their costumes.