Cultural enthusiasts throughout the Grand Bahama community braved the cool wintery night air to attend the City of Freeport Council’s (CFC) 18th Annual Junior Junkanoo Parade on Saturday.
The parade began at 6:30 p.m. with 28 preschools to senior high schools participating in the “rush-out” held under the theme, “A Celebration of Life.”
Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville, along with Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture Senior Cultural Affairs Agent and Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee (GBJC) Co-chairman Ellery Deveaux and Allyson Smith, respectively, expressed gratitude to all schools, principals, teachers, students and parents for working together.
“Firstly, I am certainly happy to be here and would like to convey my heartfelt admiration to the Grand Bahama community for demonstrating such a dynamic spirit of resilience in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew that made international headlines due to the destruction unleashed nearly four months ago throughout the Bahama Islands and the Caribbean region.
“In spite of the challenges caused as a result of Hurricane Matthew, parents, teachers, Junkanoo Programme coordinators, students as well as both the CFC and GBJC teams, have collaborated well to put on a fabulous parade right here in the island’s center, which must be commended.
“This year’s parade theme, “A Celebration of Life” certainly is befitting, as not one life was lost in Grand Bahama by the Category 5 storm and. It is with humble appreciation on behalf of the Minister of Youth, Sports & Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson and the hardworking staff of the Cultural Affairs Department as well as other closely linked Government agencies, private partners, sponsors and volunteers in all aspects of the 18th Annual Junior Junkanoo Parade I say thanks.
“Everything will go smoothly for the participating schools therefore I invite all spectators and supporters to relax and enjoy the show, God bless you all and thanks again,” said Deveaux at the opening ceremony.
This year’s Junior Junkanoo Parade did not have a judging component, as many schools sustained serious infrastructural damages in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew resulting in a several institutions being forced to utilize makeshift classrooms.
Minister Darville said he was proud of the decision to still host the cultural event in celebration of the fact that everyone made it through such a challenging period “a bit bent but not broken.”
He commended the Freeport Council, Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture Cultural Affairs Department, the GBJC and all participating school officials for coming together “in a spirit of unity to conduct the parade.”
“Tonight we anticipate a spectacular show, as the best will come from our young people that are participating in the parade.
“Personally, I would like to thank all of the teachers, parents, choreographers and Junkanooers for working with our young people as the Junior Junkanoo Programme is the feeder system for our main parade that is held each New Year’s Day
“Certainly I am excited to be here tonight and while there is no judging component to the parade, spectators and supporters alike can look forward to a dynamic show. Therefore I ask all parents, teachers and guests to enjoy all the explosive cultural elements of the parade from choreography to music. May God bless each of you and I now declare this 18th Annual City of Freeport Council Junior Junkanoo Parade official open!”
CFC Chief Councillor Frazette Gibson and Clifton Francis, CFC Cultural Affairs Councillor, both helped to fire up the crowd as the Junior Junkanooers made their way to the starting gate for the rush-out.
The first school to kick-off the show was National Christian Academy Preschool whose performance drew squeals of delight from spectators. They were followed by several other preschools, all-age schools, primary schools, junior and senior high schools, which included Letty’s Paradise, St. John’s Baptist, Hugh Campbell Primary, Walter Parker Primary, Lewis Yard Primary, the East Grand Bahama District Schools (Sweetings Cay to Freetown) and West Grand Bahama District Schools (Bartlett Hill to West End), St. George’s High School, Jack Hayward Junior High School, Lucaya International School, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy, Sunland Baptist Academy, Tabernacle Baptist Christian Academy, the Beacon School and Maurice Moore Primary School.
According to Gibson, “The CFC is certainly happy to celebrate the 18th Annual Junior Junkanoo Parade, as we are indeed grateful to continue promoting Bahamian Culture among our youth here in the Grand Bahama community.
“Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew across the length and breadth of the island particularly in West Grand Bahama, the CFC is truly pleased and proud to have all schools of the western district come together as one large group, as well as all the East Grand Bahama District Schools come together as a combined group celebrating life and culture through participation in the parade.
“The efforts exhausted by all participating schools are commended and we look forward to a grand parade that would galvanize camaraderie among all our youth, showcase Grand Bahama’s resilience in the face of adversity and continue to keep our love of Junkanoo and all components of Bahamian culture alive, well and growing stronger.”
On-hand for the 18th Annual CFC Junior Junkanoo Parade were West Grand Bahama & Bimini Member of Parliament Obediah Wilchcombe and East Grand Bahama Member of Parliament K. Peter Turnquest, who both congratulated the teachers, students, parents, the CFC, GBJC, all Cultural Affairs officers, sponsors and supporters of the event for coming together to produce an “amazing parade despite all the challenges endured with the past four months.”
Both members of Parliament said they were elated to have all the schools in their respective districts come together under one banner and participate in the Junior Junkanoo Parade “putting on an incredible show, which speaks volumes as to the future of culture on the island.”
Wilchcombe and Turnquest also thanked the public for coming out and supporting the event.
CFC Cultural Affairs Councillor Francis said that the parade not only served to boost the spirit of students, the hardworking teachers and various participating school executives and Junkanoo lovers in spite of the fact that the parade was not competitively judge but, it also captured the true historical essence of Junkanoo, which is the celebration of life.
Published Monday, January 30, 2017