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Party In The Backyard: Bahamas Plays June CaribbeanFest in Washington D.C.
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Posted by:May 30th 2006, 11:08:28 am
Fig Tree News TeamThis year, the 14th Annual Carnival Parade will be held on Saturday, June 24, 2006, along Georgia Avenue from Missouri Avenue to Barry Place and BJAMDC will present "Party in da Backyard" as its theme, based on the hit Bahamian song by The Brilanders.

"We will showcase all the elements of a Bahamian backyard party: games, dominoes, backgammon, cards, drinks, Kalik, gin and coconut water, Bacardi," said BJAMDC member Khandra Sears, daughter of Bahamas Ambassador to the United States Joshua Sears.

"Foods (like) peas 'n' rice, macaroni, fish and of course a party is not complete without music: horns, drums and cowbells."

Miss Sears revealed that 2006 will be a special year for DC Caribbean Carnival and the BJAMDC Junkanoo group.

"The U.S. Congress has passed a resolution establishing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month," she said, "and very soon President Bush will make a proclamation in this regard to acknowledge the contributions of many outstanding Carib-bean-American persons in the United States."

His Excellency, Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE, who serves as The Bahamas Ambassador to Japan and to UNESCO, is among those being recognized and will also be featured in Junkanoo style by the group in June, Miss Sears added.

The group is taking its participation in this year's carnival to another level by entering the Carnival King and Queen competitions.

Miss Sears says BJAMDC has received tremendous support from the Metro DC community and the corporate community in The Bahamas, to offset the demands and costs of a Junkanoo parade.

While the BJAMDC has sponsored two fund-raisers dubbed a 'Taste of The Bahamas' in an attempt to expose the public to some of the cuisine of The Bahamas, much of its financial support has come from government ministries, financial institutions and private companies in The Bahamas.

"So far the Ministry of Tourism, the Central Bank, First Caribbean Bank and Bacardi have committed to sponsoring this year's event and Bank of The Bahamas has also expressed an interest in sponsoring BJAMDC," Miss Sears said.

The Rhythm Rushers, a Bahamian Junkanoo group from Florida A & M University, Tallahassee, will provide the music this time around and several current and former members of the group have been instrumental in designing and building the group's lead pieces.

The costumes were designed by Jonathan Cartwright, a 2006 graduate of Howard University's School of Architecture and Junkanoo veterans residing in Maryland, Yves Barrett and Jamel Arnett.

Bahamians with Junkanoo experience from the DC area and New Providence are helping to paste and trick costumes, she said.

Miss Sears anticipates that there are others in The Bahamas who "see the intrinsic value of this unique type of cultural promotion for the well-being of our country."

"Our involvement in these activities have resulted in a heightened level of awareness of the peculiarities of Bahamian culture, allowing Bahamians in the diaspora to consolidate their own cultural identity and establish a niche for themselves in the melting pot of Caribbean culture in this DC metro area," she said.

The BJAMDC was formed several years ago at an annual Embassy function for Bahamian students and working professionals in the DC Metro area. The association has since snowballed with connections to similar organizations in Atlanta, Delaware, and Philadelphia.

According to its website, initially its main goal was to participate solely in the annual DC carnival parade on Georgia Avenue, but that concept has broadened to promoting a more widespread aspect of Bahamian culture.

DC Carnival is produced by DC Caribbean Carnival, Inc., a non-profit organization based in the District of Columbia. The purpose of the event is to bring to fruition an annual Caribbean-style parade in the District of Columbia.

The parade is also designed to develop and encourage cross-cultural programmes within the Washington Metropolitan Area community in the expansion of Caribbean culture, and educate youths and adults in Caribbean arts, crafts and culture.

The 2005 event attracted Bahamians from Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and New Providence to DC for the experience of an authentic Junkanoo parade.

"We are most grateful to Barabbas of Barabbas and the Tribe, Percy "Vola" Francis and the group of musicians who travelled with them for the success of this event and the widespread publicity they drew," Miss Sears said. "Both local and national newspapers featured the Junkanoo group, a refreshing addition to DC carnival."

The Washington Post ran a photograph of Vola Francis on the front page of its Sunday edition headlined, "Caribbean Culture Splashes Over NW; Parade, Carnival Celebrate Islands."

Kirsti Sears, another daughter of Ambassador Sears, appeared on the front page of the Post's Metro Section and the group was interviewed by several television stations, including Fox News.

The group won second place in the small band category and first place for best music on the road.

By LEDEDRA MARCHE, Senior FN Reporter

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