×

Warning

JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 936

South Florida Revels in ‘One’ Carnival

Author 

Carnival has been called the largest physical manifestation of Caribbean culture worldwide. There are two marquee carnivals - in Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago - but most seem to follow the direction of T&T’s, with cultural connections in music, pageantry, costumes, floats and food influenced by the twin island republic.

South Florida’s Miami Broward One Carnival is among the world’s biggest, the third largest in North America behind Toronto’s Caribana and New York’s West Indian Labor Day Parade. This year it will be held Oct. 7 at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.



Four years ago, two South Florida carnivals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties united to form one. Although Broward and Miami are geographically close, both carnivals were previously scheduled on the same day, at relatively the same time. The events drew large crowds. When they came together the carnival became bigger.

Kathryn Daryce, a 25-year veteran and founding member of the Miami Carnival committee, said prior to the unification the sluggish economic climate in recent years had made supporting both carnivals a burden for the public.

“The Caribbean community worldwide was suffering from having to make choices which sometimes resulted in families being split on carnival Sunday between two different events,” Daryce explained. “Economics was a major factor, since neither carnival could realize its full potential when income was split but expenses were double.”

PUBLIC DEMAND

Furthermore, according to Rafiek Mohammed, a former member of the Broward Carnival Committee that started six years before unification, “the public demanded one event, and it made economic sense.”

According to Daryce it took three of the first four years of unification to come up with the name. The “One” carnival has grown every year. Bandleaders believe there are a few issues that still need to be ironed out. But participants appear to be more satisfied with the current situation. Other advantages of the unification have emerged.

“The merging of the carnivals also worked to the benefit of the masqueraders and the visitors to South Florida,” said Christine Sankar of mas band Mascots International. “They no longer had to choose which carnival to participate in.”

Still, putting on a carnival remains expensive.

“The biggest problem is always finance, being able to produce this masterpiece at a price that is affordable to the public,” Mohammed explained.

“Financing of the carnival has been the greatest obstacle of all,” added Daryce. “Our expenses total more than $850,000.”

Mohammed explained that the economic downturn in the United States exacerbated the situation. There was “virtually no help from the governments,” he said. “Everyone is hurting, companies have had to cutback on sponsorships.

“But we are still lucky that we have been able to get some assistance,” he added.

‘HOME’

Securing a permanent site for the event was another uncertainty that had to be cleared up. The current home of the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins has provided the answer.

“Another major obstacle was the venue,” said Daryce, “and finally at Sun Life Stadium it seems carnival has a home.”

The saving grace is that carnivals still draw large crowds, according to Daryce. The number of people drawn to Florida for the event, she said, has “been judged by various police departments and county organizations as bringing between 100,000 and 200,000 to South Florida.” Carnival benefits. So, too, the area. According to the Miami Broward One Carnival website, carnival helps to attract 600,000 to South Florida and, over a two-week period, has an economic impact of $60 million.

This year is a special, since Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica are marking 50 years of Independence. The theme of this year’s Miami Broward One Carnival is “Celebrating 50 years of Independence of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica”. Headline performers include Machel Montano and Byron Lee’s Dragonaires. Some 23 mas bands and several steel bands are scheduled to perform at this year Miami Broward One Carnival.

Top