Free for all to attend, the Annual New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade held on Pioneers Way – Wednesday, January 1, 2020 – was well attended by scores of tourists and Grand Bahamians alike.
The impressive attendance was a true display of the overwhelming Bahamian spirit of unity and resilience, particularly after experiencing the devastation of Hurricane Dorian in the final quarter of 2019.
Beginning promptly at 6:00 p.m., Master of Ceremonies (MC) Will Stubbs welcomed all in the annual cultural spectacular. Opening with a prayer of thanksgiving, Bishop Ricardo Grant, during his invocation expressed, “We are grateful and thankful for another year, and for another decade.
“Even now as we move forward, as we celebrate culture; as we celebrate country, we ask Father God that You would keep us in Your kind care and keeping. We thank You for safety, and we thank You for comradery.”
Following the singing of the National Anthem, Chairman of the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee (GBJC), Kevin Russell told attendees that it was a pleasure to have them at the 2020 New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade. “It is a great feat that we are here today, because we all know that we have been devastated by Dorian.
“We did not know what to expect from the Junkanoo leaders, but we called a meeting with them and everyone said that they were coming out. I was particularly intrigued when one of the leaders said to me, ‘Junkanoo is in our hearts; if we have to come out here in boxers, draws and T-shirts we will be here.
“I want to commend them for their efforts, their herculean efforts. There were great obstacles for them to overcome, and they overcame.
“I ask you tonight, to suspend your disbelief; take your fears and your cares and put them on the top shelf and leave your worries on the doorstep. Welcome.”
Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Undersecretary Monteze Williams welcomed and introduced Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha T. Rolle, who officially declared the cultural parade open.
“We are in 2020, and I certainly want to begin by saying, we give God praise by being here. Grand Bahama, Junkanoo is that thing that unites us; it is that thing that brings us together, that allows us to exhale. May this Junkanoo continue to cause us to propel our nation forward.
“Tonight, it is my pleasure and privilege, on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas and by extension the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, not only to welcome you into 2020 and the New Year Parade here in Grand Bahama, but to offi cially declare it open.
“May I say that we are proud of you here from Grand Bahama and way down to Inagua. Everyone is still celebrating because we have life, because we have strength, we have joy because we are a nation and we are a people. Grand Bahamians you have come a long way, let us exhale together tonight and celebrate our heritage, Junkanoo. God bless you,” said Rolle.
Prior to the first group making its official entrance on to the parade route, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Samuel Butler stated that he was confident that the New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade would go off without a hitch.
He added that his law enforcement team in out in full force and readily available.
“We are certainly delighted to be here, in this brand-new year, and we want to start our comments by saying happy New Year to the entire Grand Bahama. Yes, we are in high gear of our New Year’s Junkanoo. We have high expectations that the community will come out, in full numbers. We anticipate the community to be here; they have already, as you can see, begun to make their way into the Junkanoo Square and we are awaiting the first group to come through.
“From a policing perspective, we have our police machine well oiled. We have done a number of pre-briefings for this event; internally with the police department, in connection with the National Junkanoo Committee and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. We understand all of the variables and are properly connected to each other. I believe that will help us even better to police this event,” Butler said.
“We have high expectations, based on all of the things that have happened in the last quarter of last year. It was wonderful news to hear that this is a free parade. Persons did not have to be disenfranchised if they did not have funding; if they wanted a good seat, they can just come out and get a wonderful seat. I believe that we are going to have a wonderful time here, celebrating our Bahamian culture.
“It is wonderful and impactful when the community can come together and share in those common goals of events such as this. This is definitely making a strong community and we believe that we will have a wonderful event,” said Butler.
A total of nine groups displayed their artistic talents on the streets of Grand Bahama New Year’s Day. In the A Division, five groups performed – Swingers, Kingdom Culture, Platinum Knights, Kingdom Ambassador Spartans and Superstar Rockers. The Bushwhackers, Sting (GB), Showtime and G.B. Asgard made up the B Division.