By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
AFTER four years on the scene, Platinum Knights finally walked away as Division A winners of the 2017 New Year’s Day Junkanoo parade in Freeport.
It is the first time the group has managed to hold on to first place, which has been so elusive due to penalties that have cost them the win for the past three years.
“It is our time and nothing could have stopped it,” said group leader Thomas Curry Jr, who celebrated with group members late into evening hours of Tuesday at their shack in the Lucaya area.
According to the unofficial results released by officials of the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee, Platinum Knights took first place in two of the four main categories, including Best Banner and Best Choreograph Dancers. The group got second in both the Best Individual Lead, and Best Performance in Showtime categories.
Platinum Knights also dominated in the individual category of Best Off Shoulder, taking the top three spots. Although the group accumulated the highest total scores for Best Free Dancer in both lap one and two of the parade route, it walked away with third place in that individual category.
The group defeated last year’s winner, the Swingers, a group that has dominated in past parades.
Because of the hurricane last October, some groups experienced hardships and had to drop out. Only four groups participated in the Division A category – Platinum Knights, Swingers, New Life Classic Dancers, and Superstar Rockers.
Show Time was the only group in the Division B category, making them the winner in that division, with a total of 943 points. The Bush Whackers was the only Division C category group.
The parade was held on Tuesday evening on Pioneer’s Way in downtown Freeport. Allyson Smith, chairman of the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee, had predicted a good parade during an interview on ZNS TV, even though the number of groups participating in Division A this year had declined.
Platinum Knights numbered around 480 members, and Mr Curry hopes the numbers will be in the thousands next year.
“I feel it (the judging) was very fair,” he told The Tribune. “This is our fourth year. The first year we came out and got fourth place because of penalties; the second year we were in first place, but lost the parade because of penalties; and last year we were in first again but lost again by penalties. But, this year we did it and we took it home.”
The group’s theme was ‘Weather and Storms - Elements of Mother Nature.’
“It was the right fit. Hurricane Matthew came to Grand Bahama and damaged our shack, but we bounced back with a large crew and we did it. We did what we had to do,” he said.
Mr Curry said their hard work and perseverance paid off.
“Everyday, this yard was filled with junkanooers. While the hurricane set us back a bit, the guys got together and we promised that we would bring Junkanoo to Grand Bahama and make the people feel special. We got together and gave them a special treat, and it paid off,” he said.
Cliff Barnett, co-leader, said that the win was well deserved.
“It was a lot of hard work and we planned from the beginning that we will give Freeport Junkanoo like that of Nassau,” he said.
Mr Barnett explained that one of the setbacks was money and lack of sponsors. “We did not have the sponsors, and we started working at the beginning of the year and everyone would work at home and carry their pieces at home and work on them.
“The hurricane was also a setback but with hard work and many sleepless nights we pulled it off. We promised we would give GB a good showing and we did just that,” he said.
The official results will be published this week, and the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee is expected to hold a press conference sometime this week to discuss the parade and the results.