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.
â€œThe Caribbean community worldwide was suffering from having to make choices which sometimes resulted in families being split on carnival Sunday between two different events,â€ Daryce explained. â€œEconomics was a major factor, since neither carnival could realize its full potential when income was split but expenses were double.â€
Furthermore, according to Rafiek Mohammed, a former member of the Broward Carnival Committee that started six years before unification, â€œthe public demanded one event, and it made economic sense.â€
According to Daryce it took three of the first four years of unification to come up with the name. The â€œOneâ€ 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.
â€œThe merging of the carnivals also worked to the benefit of the masqueraders and the visitors to South Florida,â€ said Christine Sankar of mas band Mascots International. â€œThey no longer had to choose which carnival to participate in.â€
Still, putting on a carnival remains expensive.
â€œThe biggest problem is always finance, being able to produce this masterpiece at a price that is affordable to the public,â€ Mohammed explained.
â€œFinancing of the carnival has been the greatest obstacle of all,â€ added Daryce. â€œOur expenses total more than $850,000.â€
Mohammed explained that the economic downturn in the United States exacerbated the situation. There was â€œvirtually no help from the governments,â€ he said. â€œEveryone is hurting, companies have had to cutback on sponsorships.
â€œBut we are still lucky that we have been able to get some assistance,â€ he added.
Securing a permanent site for the event was another uncertainty that had to be cleared up. The current home of the National Football Leagueâ€™s Miami Dolphins has provided the answer.
â€œAnother major obstacle was the venue,â€ said Daryce, â€œand finally at Sun Life Stadium it seems carnival has a home.â€
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 â€œbeen judged by various police departments and county organizations as bringing between 100,000 and 200,000 to South Florida.â€ 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 yearâ€™s Miami Broward One Carnival is â€œCelebrating 50 years of Independence of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaicaâ€. Headline performers include Machel Montano and Byron Leeâ€™s Dragonaires. Some 23 mas bands and several steel bands are scheduled to perform at this year Miami Broward One Carnival.