St. Maarten Carnival Grand Parade 2012: a kaleidoscope of colors

POSTED: 05/2/12 11:56 AM

St. Maarten – A total of five troupes and approximately 15 individual pieces competed in Monday’s Carnival Grand Parade 2012. With arguably close to one hundred and twenty nationalities on this thirty-seven square mile island, designers strive to not only hold their own on the road but to offer creations that appeal to every individual’s taste and cultural background. This year big impressions were made by Gordon Yee’s Surprise, Survivors’ Rhythm of the Soul, Jolly Eclipse’s Wonders of Egypt, Live Wire’s St.Maarten We Love and Randolf Scott’s Color Confusion. Gordon Yee amassed 283 points and will get a $10,000 cash prize, second place was Jolly Eclipse with 254 and Survivors came in third with 243 points.

The parade started in the vicinity of St. John’s Estate, made its way through the Dutch Cul-de-Sac basin before meandering onto Bush Road.  Upon crossing the Prince Bernard bridge, it crept along Walter J. Nisbeth Road on the Pondfill turned at Percy Labega Street before heading onto the Longwall Road. Conquering Front Street represented the homestretch for revelers. It took almost eight hours for the procession to reach the Festival Village; its final destination.

Heading the procession were the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF), Ms. St. Maarten Glenicia Mitchell, Ms. Teen Queen Erissa Cozier, and Ms. Mature Sharon Layne. They were followed by the runners up of the various pageants in their Carnival costumes.


The regal display along the parade route is usually the end product of months of hard work. Gordon Yee told us that sourcing materials such as feathers, sequins, foil, wire and glitter took a lot of patience and investment. “The ideas that I come up with come just like that. I was born with this level of creativity,” he said. His troupe comprised 150 persons in 6 sections; Regatta, Zouk, Pride of SXM, Blue Blue We Love You, Fire and Snake. All of the costumes were designed and created by Derek Sargeant, one of the many talents coming out of Yee’s mas camp.


This year saw a return to more modest costumes, giving many senior citizens the opportunity to participate in the event. Scantily clad young adults still dominated the event though with infectious exuberance and playful banter.


Jasmine Phillips designed all 150 costumes for the Survivor’s Rhythm to the Soul. The troupe was equally divided into adults and children who depicted aspects of Caribbean culture and the sweet steel pan. Phillips, the landslide victor of last week’s Children’s Parade, confidently said “this year is my year.” Ms. Chocolate Valentine 2012, Jascur Hobson of St. Kitts also jammed with Survivors.


It was truly a kaleidoscope of colors with various hues of fuchsia, gold, purple, sunset red, orange, white, blue and silver. Indigenous African flora and fauna were also featured in the Jolly Eclipse Revelers Troupe. Designed by Carol Tackling, The Wonders of Egypt, offered spectators a blast into the past with ancient Egyptian pyramids, headpieces and dynasty period clothing. Modern day pieces of Egyptian culture added to the 75 member troupe.


Five sections of an eighty member troupe by Live Wire offered much glitz and glamour.  The central theme of St. Maarten We Love was supported by Full moon over the Great Salt Pond, Saturday Night, Pristine Beaches, Guavaberry, and Sunset. All of the costumes were designed by Rick la Tousche.


Teen Times presented Randolf Scott’s Color Confusion. Teenagers clad in what looked liked tie dyed and spray painted t-shirts delivered an energetic performance. They preceded the lone individual piece of a dragon, for veteran designer Scott. Along the route, he said that the year 2012 is symbolic for the Chinese as the year of the dragon. He decided to put whatever materials were available to use to create the intimidating red and gold creature. In the belly of the beast could be seen Scott who chose to carry the piece himself.


The island’s two telecommunications giants were also out in full force. UTS Chippie’s troupe attracted a lot of attention with beautiful ladies gyrating in silver, white and blue costumes. Artistic body paint completed their ensemble which could have very well passed for one of the competing troupes. Along the way they distributed promotional items such as bags and cups. A jumbo projector formed the rear of the Chippie troupe as it featured real time video images of the procession.


Telcell on the other hand demonstrated the art of stilt walking, with young people dressed in red as moko jumbies. The sight of these traditional carnival figures brought delight to the thousands of people lining both sides of the route. Many parents opted to have their children take pictures with the towering figures.


Our cameras failed to spot veteran reveler ‘Pork Chop’ but ‘Gunsmith’ once again teased the crowd as Dr. Knowall, the brain surgeon. He pushed a cart plastered with various neurological ailments and waved a giant syringe in his hand. Atop the cart could be seen makeshift IV tubes attached to a human head. Even in the Carnival season, Gunsmith said, you were bound to find some wackos that would need his specialized services.


By the time they reached the  Pondfill Roundabout, a few of the revelers looked heavily intoxicated and had to be supported as they staggered to keep up with the rest of the troupe. This caused a former judge for the Carnival Parade to remark “I hope the judges this year are very observant. Some people have on shoes and some are barefoot. They must show uniformity at least until they reach close to the village. Some of the main people in the troupes are drunk already.  I hope they realize they can lose points for this.” Scattered throughout the route, judges were also on the lookout for carriage, creativity and overall finish of costumes.


Noteworthy was the Curacao delegation that joined the parade dressed in flamboyant animal prints such as the leopards, cheetahs and zebras, as well as tropical fruits. These costumes were intricately designed with lots of fabric and exuded a potent vibrancy.


Our French counterparts also took the decision to “delve into we Carnival 2012” with a troupe dressed in sixteenth century clothing and masks.  They were supported by members of Festivité Carnavalesque De Saint Martin (FCDSM)


Carnival parades would be lackluster, to some degree, without the rhythms of local and international bands to keep the revelers going. This year, entertainment was provided by the Majestic, Bada Bing, Impakt, X-Plosion, Official, No Limit, 4M, Youth Waves and ERA bands. Surprisingly though, several of persons failed to heed the warning of the SCDF and the Ministry of Health as several bands had toddlers on board who were subjected to the loud sounds without  earplugs.  The 2012 Grand Parade was considered smaller than previous parades but lost none of its splendor. The costumes represented a mix of rich diversity and creativity displayed by revelers  full of energy.


The Grand Parade made way for Tuesday’s Labor Day Parade, which followed a shorter route and featured a convergence of children and adult troupes.

Up to press time, the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation was yet to announce the winners of the individual and troupe categories.

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