Celebrating 38 years, Miami Carnival has brought the unique Caribbean festive experience to the roads of Miami and Broward to throngs of people craving a taste of the region. This year promises to surpass all others as the Miami Broward One Carnival Host Committee brings back the experience to carnival-starved patrons and revelers.
All roads lead to Miami Carnival 2022 which kicks off Saturday October 1st with Junior Carnival, Panorama Friday the 7th, J’ouvert on the 8th, and the penultimate Parade of Bands and Concert on Sunday October 9.
“It starts with a very energetic Executive Director, Mario Zamora and Board of Directors chaired by Joan Hinkson… It's a year round responsibility for an event of this magnitude and having four events in the space of seven days is not an easy task. So, when you look at it from that perspective, you begin to realize that yes, there is going to be a lot of time, energy and manpower that's put into it,” explained John Beckford, Miami Carnival’s Chief Marketing Officer.
This rich Caribbean celebration that uplifts native culture with elements of African, Asian, and European traditions, has a complex history. Historians believe it came to Trinidad and Tobago in the 18th century with the influx of French settlers who brought their Mardi Gras festivities with them. Also known as Fat Tuesday, Mardi gras is when revelers feast on food, music, and hedonism until the day before Ash Wednesday, or Lent. After the abolition of slavery in 1834, the masses of now free Africans made the activity their own with distinctive music, dance, and costumes that defined their own existence. Thought to be the largest in the Caribbean, Trinidad Carnival can be considered the mother that spawned all others across the region.
In fact, keeping the spirit, energy, and marketing of carnival at its highest level, Beckford pointed out that he, along with several board members and employees, visit other carnivals throughout the year as part of their destination marketing efforts.
“When we go to these destinations we interface with media. When we were in Trinidad we were on 9 radio stations and 2 TV stations. In
Jamaica, we have a partnership with Zip 103. As a matter of fact, there’s a contest going on right now for a jingle where the winner gets an all expense paid Miami Carnival experience — airfare hotel and VIP passes for all the events.”
Beckford added that they also travelled to St. Lucia and Antigua for their carnival events, and will be in New York for Labour Day carnival that traditionally packs the streets of Brooklyn.
“So that’s the energy and vibe that we carry all year long by going to these destinations and carrying the Miami Carnival brand. We do that because, I always like to say, when the tide rises it raises all ships. Carnival as a brand is global,” said an excited Beckford.
Although numbers were affected by the COVID pandemic, Miami Carnival 2021 revelers, those who buy costumes and play mas, swelled to 105 percent Beckford reported.
“Truth be told, last year Miami Carnival was the only carnival coming out of the pandemic. And, we worked closely with the local government, the Miami-Dade County Mayor, as well as the Chief Medical Officer. We had a very comprehensive COVID mitigation plan that we executed to have a safe and enjoyable carnival 2021.”
For this year Beckford noted that their COVID strategy is just as strong, in addition to keeping an eye on the monkey pox outbreak. With a nurse on staff, working with local government, and adhering to CDC guidelines, the Miami Broward One Carnival Host Committee is working to ensure the safety its patrons and revelers.
Beckford explained that in 2021 “Our COVID mitigation plan cost over $300,000. That's not government money that we were spending to execute that. It was a complete MASH unit that was set up. We had 30 Medical stations. And, not only was there testing, but there was also the administration of COVID shots as well. So we're ready from a safety standpoint.”
He added that behind the scenes security measures are always in place as they work closely with law enforcement officials. As well, Miami Carnival events are held in contained environments and patrons must go through security screenings and metal detectors to enter. This year the four events will be held at Broward Regional Park and Miami Dade County Fairgrounds & Expo Centre to accommodate the large crowds expected.
There is no doubt that the large influx of people to Miami Carnival significantly boosts South Florida’s economy. According to Beckford, last year’s carnival attracted 33,000 revelers. And, based on the average spend of $3000-4000 per reveler for costumes, make-up, hair stylings, etc, that’s roughly $120 million positively impacting South Florida’s economy. Add in the inflow to small businesses and entrepreneurs in the community, the 50 food vendors on Carnival Sunday and that number moves up exponentially, close to $200 million said Beckford.
“I think we're shaping up to have an epic Miami Carnival in its 38th year. So, Miami Carnival 2022 — miss it and you mad.”