20th Annual Junior Junkanoo Parade termed a big success

JR. JUNKANOO PARTICIPANTS GLITTER – The City of Freeport Council’s 20th Annual Junior Junkanoo Parade was a success, as scores of students took to the streets of downtown Freeport to show off their dancing and creativity with various themes. Thirty schools from Grand Bahama and Sweeting’s Cay participated in the event, where the youth of the nation shined, as they showcased Bahamian culture at its best.

20th Annual Junior Junkanoo Parade termed a big success

JAIMIE SMITH FN Reporter jaimie@nasguard.com

 The Junkanoo element on Saturday was extraordinary as juniors presented their artistic styles and dances for observers.

Despite the postponement of The City of Freeport District Council’s 20th Annual Junior Junkanoo Parade two weeks ago, due to inclement weather, this past Saturday February 9, West Pioneer’s Way, Downtown Freeport was transformed to celebrate Bahamian culture at its best, with the nation’s future indeed beaming bright as they displayed their creativity and passion for Junkanoo in grand style.

Opened in prayer by Father Curtis Robinson, Rector of St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church, followed by an outstanding rendition of the National Anthem by Jasmine Thompson, a student of Tabernacle Baptist Christian Academy, the parade was exciting from the outset.

The parade was officially declared open by K. Darron Turnquest, Deputy Permanent Secretary and Director of Youth, Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, on behalf of Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Lanisha Rolle. He informed that the minister was out of the country on official government business, however he expressed that he was indeed happy to be on island to witness the youth “celebrate our culture in such a way.”

Co-moderator for the event, along with Will Stubbs, Ricardo Lightbourne addressed attendees:

“Twenty years of celebrating our youth, in terms of Junkanoo was no easy task. What you see here was put together by a group of planners and individuals who worked day and night to give you a beautiful parade. The senior parade was fantastic, and the junior parade will be just as exciting,” he said.

According to Lightbourne, the Chairman of the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee, Kevin Russell, has been involved with Junkanoo for many years and in terms of the group that he has put together with the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee he “did a wonderful job to make the 20th Annual Junior Junkanoo Parade a very special event.”

Bringing welcoming remarks for the event, Russell stated: “This is such a wonderful day and is something that we have been working for and is something that we will give you what we want. The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, in conjunction with the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee and the City of Freeport District Council welcome you and have a wonderful time.”

Turnquest emphasized the significance of culture.

“As I stand here and I am looking at the sun shining right in my face, I recognize that the culture of our country and the future of our culture is extremely bright.

“Remember that this was postponed because the weather was inclement, as they call it, so let us give the Lord a round of applause for giving us good weather today.

“It is my honour to be here, on behalf of my Minister, the Hon. Lanisha Rolle, to bring greetings and also to have the opportunity to declare this parade officially open but to tell you that our culture is in the hands of some wonderful people, that is each and every one of you who are seated here, to make certain that this more formidable expression, that is called Junkanoo, is forever living, not only in our hearts, but in the main streets of every single island in our country.

“On behalf of my Minister who is on travel duty right now, I declare this Parade officially open.”

From the tiny tots to the senior schools throughout the island, attendees of the event appeared to thoroughly enjoy the performances by the youth, who also were noticeably engaged, wooing the crowd in turn.

A number of local government officials were present and shared their thoughts on the parade throughout the event.

Minister of State within the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Kwasi Thompson, shared his thoughts on the event.

“I think the future of Junkanoo and the future of our culture is bright. I want to first of all congratulate all of the students, teachers, parents, and principals. This is a wonderful display of our culture. I congratulate everyone tonight, for a job well done.”

Former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Perry Christie was also in attendance.

“Truly this is a wonderful occasion and we must encourage our young people to stay engaged because some of them may become accomplished dancers, accomplished musicians. Some have become professors at universities in music and dance. This is something very important for our future to continue,” said Christie.

Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama, Hon. Iram Lewis was also in attendance.

“The parade appears to be well attended, the crowd is having fun and, in fact it is pleasantly larger than that of the senior Junkanoo (Parade). It is so good to see the crowd’s support here tonight,” he said.

Turnquest was enthused.

“This is absolutely fantastic. The support of all of the people who are out here, the primary schools, they killed it and I am going to make sure to select a couple of those individuals to try and put them on the frontline of ‘One Family’ the noted senior Junkanoo group based in the capital island of New Providence.

“If we can get more young people participating in Junkanoo in the most formidable expression of our Bahamian culture, then it promises that the senior parades will continue and we can learn from these young people in the senior Junkanoo.

“I think they (youth) can teach us a lot about Junkanoo and what it means to do it in style. I think the infrastructure here is absolutely amazing and I want to commend the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in Grand Bahama, for a job well done, as well as the Grand Bahama Junkanoo Committee,” said added Turnquest.

Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe, Member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini also commented: “Everything is going magnificently and I am so proud of all the young people out here tonight.”

The five primary groups judged were: Preschool, Primary, Junior, All Age, and Secondary. Thirty schools participated in the 20th Annual Junior Junkanoo Parade. Of the participants, there were eight in the Preschool Division; eight in Primary; nine entrants for the All Age Division and four within the Secondary Class. The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute participated in the secondary division as a Fun group while Sister Mary Patricia Russell Junior High was the sole entrant in the Junior Division of this year’s Junior Parade.

28981.jpg UNDER THE SEA—The Little Mermaid from Growing Years Preschool danced her way down the street during the City of Freeport Council Junior Junkanoo Parade.

(PHOTO: JENNEVA RUSSELL)

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