Carnival Unity Jump Up attracts thousands, but comes to a stop at the border

POSTED: 01/28/13 2:02 PM
Unity Jumpup1
SCDF President Michael Granger (r) and his French counterpart Philippe Richards (behind) join revelers at the unity Jump up. Photo Today / Milton Pieters.

St. Maarten – The level of corporation between the French and Dutch manifested itself once more when hundreds of Carnival revelers left Philipsburg sometime before 8.00 p.m. on Saturday and arrived in Marigot shortly before midnight.

While an official estimate of the attendance was not readily available, between the two trucks that were providing the sweet Caribbean music could have been between 15,000 to 17,000 people; another 5,000 lined the route of the procession. SCDF-President Mike Granger estimated the crowd at 7,000.

The President of the Festivities Carnavalesques de Saint-Martin,  Philippe  Richards along with members of his committee linked up with Michael Granger, the President of the St Maarten Carnival Development Foundation and members of his committee at the start of the jump up.

In an attempt to thwart off any form of violence which occurs during such events, the uniformed police were out in huge numbers, but up to press time, there were no reports of fights or arrests being made. However, Granger did have mixed feelings about the manner in which the French organized their jump up.

For reasons that remain unclear, the French authorities allowed Unity Jump Up organized by the SCDF to start in the outskirts of Marigot and end in the heart of Philipsburg. On the other hand, the Jump Up organized by the French side Carnival committee would start in Philipsburg and end in Marigot. But when the revelers arrived at the border on Union road, the jump Up stopped right there.

“The collaboration between the two organizations has always been good, but I would like to see more of the French territory being utilized for our Jump Up, the distance has to be equal, but they must have their reasons,” Granger pointed out.

In a statement issued yesterday, Granger said that the premature ending to the Unity Jump-Up  did not stop people from having a good time as the warmed up for the French Carnival activities.

“The Unity did not proceed to French St. Martin due to the absence of French law enforcement who indicated that the French Carnival committee did not secure the proper permits for the road event. After this became apparent, the SCDF took the decision not to cross the border as their French counterparts could not guarantee safety and security for revelers. The Unity came to an end at the Bellevue border monument,” Granger stated.

The event did progress smoothly through Dutch St. Maarten with significant police escort and presence, the SCDF-president added. Two band bands accompanied the Unity, Official Band from Dutch St. Maarten and Power Band from French St. Maarten.

Granger said revelers had a great time from Philipsburg to Cole Bay, which in itself is still quite a trek. He said the collaboration with French counterparts remains strong, but stressed that the Unity must span both (and equal length of route) sides of the island for it to really be a unifying event. “Our people unified on Dutch St. Maarten this year. Our brothers and sister from the North came over and we jammed together on this side. So in that sense we were very unified on Saturday night.”

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