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Nassau Guardian: Junior Junkanoo
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Posted by:Dec 8th 2003, 01:25:27 pm
Fig Tree News TeamWe wish the Briland Youth Band [and bandleader Cpl. Howie Pinder] the best of luck as they head to Nassau to compete in this week's Junior Junkanoo pageant ... if you'd like to get involved, contact Kayla Davis at the local government office [333 3153 or].

-- Junior Junkanoo still undergoing growing pains
Guardian Staff Reporter

In three days, young Bahamians from around the country will take to the streets in what is fast developing into a "growing interest," as a breeding ground for future Junkanooers.

In Nassau, 16 schools will compete in the Jr. Junkanoo Parade on Bay Street on Dec. 11 beginning at 7:30 p.m. In Grand Bahama, some 14 schools will participate. And, according to Jr. Junkanoo director Percy "Vola" Francis, the Christmas festival is catching on in Abaco, Inagua, Acklins and San Salvador, which will be staging their first parades; making it 72 schools in all participating.

"This interest for junkanoo is spreading through the width and breath of The Bahamas. What has happened is, these schools have caught on to the programme's system, to assure the survival of junkanoo for years to come," Mr. Francis said.

To make certain that this happens, Mr. Francis said more schools have to participate in the annual parade, but he noted, however, the difficulty some schools have, due to lack of funds and the fact that most schools place more emphasis on academics.

Since the inception of the junkanoo festival, the timing of the Jr. parade has consistently been debated, it is felt that Dec. being the month for end-of-term examinations, was the reason that most private and public schools do not participate.

"There are some people out there who think this is bad timing, but junkanoo during the Christmas holidays is natural in The Bahamas," Mr. Francis noted. "We automatically go into a frenzy in Dec. We talk about it; this fever actually starts; we have to understand that these children are feeling that fever, too."

For those schools that show an interest in participating, the Ministry formed a junkanoo summer workshop scheme, but due to lack of funds, it was never introduced.

Mr. Francis explained, "What I've been encouraging the government to do, since taking over the programme in 1995, was to create a summer junkanoo workshop, whereby all of the schools that would be participating would get their seed funding and materials early, and we'd like them to start the cutting and pasting early while school is closed. So by Sept. the majority of their work would be completed."

"This, however, is not junkanoo period... this is not the period where they become feverish and enthusiastic. Most of the kids would go away with their families on summer vacation and they would find other things to do. So, even though we might think this summer workshop may be effective, we may not get the involvement of all of the students."

Despite all of this, Mr. Francis said that by the time $70,000 of seed money is shared among local schools, the workshop is penniless before it starts.

"Jr. junkanoo is very expensive," he said, "the Government gives the Ministry a certain amount of money for Junkanoo in its budget, which is never enough. We have to consider, not only the junior and senior parades in New Providence, but parades throughout The Bahamas."

As for senior groups assisting schools, Mr. Francis said in the past the Ministry has not encouraged it, because often times the groups would "take over" the project and make it their own.

"We would like this programme to be a school programme, rather than getting these senior groups involved, because what happens then is that they would completely take over the work and not give the opportunity to the students for hands on," he said.

He encouraged companies to become corporate sponsors, to "adopt" schools in their area and assist in preparing it for the parade.

Directing his attention to the parade itself, Mr. Francis reminded spectators and businesses on Bay Street to remove their vehicles from roadsides as early as 3 p.m., as workers may still be assembling at that time.

Mr. Francis is confident that the ministry will create a "family-oriented atmosphere" for children and parents in the audience that are able to attend the senior parades, which are held in the early morning hours.

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