By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Perry Christie yesterday said he was “very disappointed” at the “lack of organisation” of the Junkanoo Boxing Day Parade.
He added that something had to be done to make the parade less “boring”.
He and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Danny Johnson will meet with the Junkanoo community to express the government’s “deep concern” with the event, he said.
Mr Christie, who said he sat through the entire Boxing Day Parade, told The Tribune that the parade needs to be “reviewed and organised”. Mr Christie’s statements came after a Boxing Day Parade that was marred by delays, prompting officials to pledge to seek ways of improving the pace of the parade in the future. There was also a mix-up over the Boxing Day results, as officials initially declared the Saxons as the winner only to overturn the results hours later and declare One Family as the Boxing Day champions.
His statements also came after Junkanoo group leaders criticised the Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence (JCNP) for altering the number of laps A Groups would make in the New Year’s Day line up in a bid to shorten the parade.
Instead of the usual three laps, groups made two laps in yesterday morning’s parade – one on Shirley Street and one on Bay Street. A groups normally makes two laps on Bay Street.
“I was very disappointed in what I saw,” Mr Christie said. “It clearly needs a review. I’ve spoken to the minister responsible for culture, Danny Johnson, in a meeting yesterday (Wednesday). I told him it’s very important for us to meet with the Junkanoo community to advise them that the government is deeply concerned about the lack of precision organisation here. People are bored.
“Last week we had the extraordinary chanting from the northern stands that ‘we want Junkanoo, we want Junkanoo,’ because a group was delayed and they couldn’t have another group fill it in. The parade has to be reviewed, it has to be organised. The route has to be examined. You can see how the route has become narrower and narrower because they’re trying to put more seats in.”
Last week’s delays ruined the Boxing Day experience for many spectators. While the parade began on time around midnight Friday, a near one hour delay by the Music Makers group disrupted proceedings. Some Music Makers participants claimed that police did not allow their members through the starting gate, causing them not to get their lead pieces to the gate on time. Others said the group’s truck suffered a major delay on its way to Bay Street. The group was eventually disqualified for not having enough lead pieces.
In addition, the Valley Boys struggled to move one of its taller costumes out of the road after parts became tangled in a rope tied to electrical wires on Shirley Street. It took participants about two hours to move it, according to Junkanoo Parade Management Chairman Douglas Hanna.
Meanwhile, spectators on Shirley Street waited hours before the first major group appeared, with the Valley Boys arriving around 3am. The second major group, One Family, arrived in the area around 7:30am.
While the New Year’s Day Parade did not suffer significant delay, there was nearly a half-hour delay at the onset. However, the most apparent problem, as noted by Mr Christie yesterday, was the gap in between dancers and the actual band of some groups, at times making it seem like the dancers were dancing without music.
To better tackle the problem, group marshals could be seen instructing their dancers and costume wearers to speed up their routines.
However, Mr Christie told The Tribune that something is “dead wrong with Junkanoo” when the A section groups become so large that it appears that “hundreds of people are dancing without music”.
“People watching people dance without music is just boring,” he said. “At least hearing the music causes you to join the dancer and feel that something is happening. We either have to determine there is technology available to (place microphones on) the route, so when the band strikes up, the music is thrown along the entire route. Or alternatively to give them different sections of the group to put some music in, so at least people could be dancing and appear to be enjoying what they’re doing, as opposed to looking like they’re out for a hard day’s work in the front of a group that’s dancing without music.”