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Bahamians Around The USA: Junkanoo In June (Washington DC)
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Posted by:Apr 17th 2005, 04:23:53 pm
Fig Tree News TeamBahamians in U.S. preparing for Caribbean Street Carnival

By BARBARA WALKIN,Senior Freeport News Reporter - barbara@nasguard.com

Bahamians residing in Washington, D. C., and its metropolitan areas of Virginia and Maryland are intently and excitedly preparing for their first Junkanoo Parade appearance. Bahamian students and working professionals residing in the Washington area came together to form The Bahamas Junkanoo Group of Metro D.C. (BJAM-DC) and their debut is scheduled for June 2005, at the Caribbean Street Carnival in Washington D.C.

Gina Rodgers-Sealy, public relations director for the group, said in a press release that the formation of BJAM-DC has also succeeded in arousing the interest of Bahamians living in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts and Georgia. Mrs. Sealy explained that it was a decade ago when Washington experienced the colourful, hypnotic dancing and music of Junkanoo.

Saxon Superstar forerunner Eddie "Fast Eddie" Dames led a vibrant Junkanoo group up and down the National Mall in Washington, D.C, as guests of the Smithsonian Institution's Folklife Festival. "The Bahamian contingent all members of category A Junkanoo groups, performing rhythmic, pulsating music of the Caribbean and sporting costumes depicting the American flag took Washington D.C. by storm, turning a laid back group of American spectators into honorary frenzied rushing Bahamians," said Mrs. Sealy.

She noted that now, 10 years later, this new group on the horizon has big plans to rock the nation's capital once more. As local Junkanoo groups and those around The Bahamas prepare for the 2005 New Year's Day Parade, "BJAM-DC will make its rushing debut in June 2005."
Mrs. Sealy said the DC Carnival, which was established in 1993, is actually a month of concerts and fetes that culminate in the Georgia Avenue Parade the last Saturday in June.

Khandra Sears, a Ph.D student at the University of Maryland, and Felicity Burrows, an environmental scientist at the National Centres for Coastal & Ocean Science (NOAA), are co-chairs of BJAM-DC. Ms. Burrows is also the group's choreographer. Khandra Sears is the daughter of Bahamas Ambassador to the United States Joshua Sears and Mrs. Sears.

The remaining slate of officers are Gina Storr, Yvette Newry, Eric Hanna, finance committee; Caron Johnson, secretary; and assisting on the PR committee are Jamaal Charlton and Jide Tinubu. The group plans to hold a number of functions in the D.C. Metro area to raise funds, said Mrs. Sealy, "but we welcome any assistance, whether financial, or in the form of help with costume building." The team of costume designers and builders includes Yves Barrett, Fred Charlton, Deran Dean and Jonathan Cartwright.

This year's theme is "Sun, Sand and Sea, It's Better in The Bahamas."
"This theme was chosen because the elements of tourism the golden sun, the aquamarine water, local fishing and the straw market so thoroughly represent Bahamian culture," Khandra Sears said. As a lover of carnival and calypso music, she noted that she has always been aware of the lack of Bahamian presence at Caribbean events in the D.C. metro area.

"I think a venture of this nature is long overdue," she said. "So if you plan to be in the D.C. Metro area in June, why not save your Boxing Day or New Years Day costume and then, with a little refurbishing, you can join BJAM-DC in the rush-out down Georgia Avenue. This event promises to continue to shake up the city, where Junkanoo at the Smithsonian left off 10 years ago."

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