By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
A DECISION to reduce the number of laps the major Junkanoo groups will make during tomorrow’s New Year’s Day parade was condemned by officials from the Saxons and Valley Boys.
Instead of the usual three laps, each A Group will perform two laps - one on Bay Street and one on Shirley Street - in a bid to shorten the parade.
This was confirmed Chairman of the Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence (JCNP) Silbert Ferguson confirmed yesterday.
The move, however, was not met with unanimous approval.
Some believe it will help ensure that tomorrow’s parade ends on time, others – including the leaders of the Saxons and Valley Boys – see it as further stifling of Junkanoo.
The decision was made following a vote during an executive meeting of the JCNP on Monday night. Representatives of the A Groups of One Family, Roots, Music Makers and Prodigal Sons voted in favour of the move.
The Valley Boys abstained from voting, however, and no representative from the Shell Saxons Superstars attended, Mr Ferguson said.
Moments after the meeting ended on Monday evening Valley Boys Chairman Brian Adderley released a statement criticising what he called an attempt to limit the exposure of Junkanoo.
“This arbitrary change to the rules two days before the parade, in our opinion, further undermines Junkanoo,” he said. “We believe that any change to the rules should only be done after proper notice and consultation with all of the relevant stakeholders – and certainly not two days before the parade.
“At a time when Junkanoo is fighting for its survival, we believe that to limit the exposure of Junkanoo to potential spectators, and indeed the world, in this manner is counter-productive. We regret any inconvenience caused to the major sponsors of the Junkanoo parade: BTC, Kalik and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism as a result of the reduced exposure and we also wish to apologise to our sponsors: Baha Mar, Rubis, Bamboo Shack and Boomer Trucking, who we have promised two laps of exposure on Bay Street.”
Saxons leader, Percy “Vola” Francis, also criticised the move, adding that it did not matter if his group had been present during the executive vote because the result would have been the same.
“I have a serious problem with everything the JCNP is doing,” he told The Tribune. “What is really happening is, whatever they decide to do, it’s six major groups, with four of them, when they vote, they all vote together so it doesn’t matter if the Saxons and the Valley say no. They will have a four to two vote every time there is a motion.
“This watering down of Junkanoo really disturbs me. A lot of people don’t go out too early, but go out because they say the Saxons (will) be coming out at a particular time. When you make moves like this you limit the opportunities people have and then they wonder why people don’t buy tickets.”
Mr Francis said he believes the votes of the Saxons and Valley Boys should carry more weight, adding: “People ain’t coming to see them other groups. People who (are) making the decision getting disqualified,” he added, referring to the Music Makers and Prodigal Sons who were disqualified during the Boxing Day parade.
For his part, Darron Turnquest, chairman of One Family, said while the move is not ideal, it is in the best interest of everyone involved.
“After meeting with the police and listening to some of the discussions that took place, I think we reviewed our rules clearly to see there was no requirement for the parade management team to come to us and offer to see whether we would like to shorten the parade or not,” he said.
“That decision could have been made by them without us. But understanding the concern of the police and the length of time it took the last parade to finish and the fact that this parade will be starting at 2am, we don’t have a challenge with this move.”
In a statement released last night, the Saxons said the group is scheduled to parade on Bay Street in the third position out of the gate. The statement added that the group is disappointed the JCNP has shortened the parade despite a good weather forecast and no indication on how this will help Junkanoo.
“It is obvious that the leadership of the JCNP has lost direction in the quest for improving the state and condition of Junkanoo, a matter we hope to address shortly following the 2015 New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade,” the statement said.
The Boxing Day Parade was marred with delays and confusion over the results.
Although the Saxons were initially declared the unofficial winners, those results were later overturned. One Family was named as the actual winner of the parade while the Saxons came second, Roots third and Valley Boys fourth.