THE SAXONS on parade on January 1, 2020.
By FARRAH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
JUNKANOO Corporation of New Providence chairman Dion Miller said while the organisation does not foresee any “traditional” parades this year, stakeholders are in the process of planning a Junkanoo “experience” to commemorate the festival in spite of the COVID-19 surge.
Mr Miller said the “new experience” will not replace Junkanoo as the country knows and loves it but will be something people can enjoy “in place” of the traditional parade amid the pandemic.
“In regard to this year, the JCNP and our partners do not foresee any traditional Junkanoo parades this year as we have seen in past years and that’s due to the COVID pandemic,” he said.
“I can share that we have just begun some sort of communication with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and our corporate sponsors on developing plans for a Junkanoo experience.”
“What that experience is, I can’t speak to exactly right now, but in regard to traditional parades on Bay Street, we do not foresee that happening this year again.”
Mr Miller said the pandemic has “thrown a wrench” in Junkanoo festivities since it has prohibited many enthusiasts from celebrating their cultural heritage.
“We can’t go in the shacks and produce costumes and conduct Junkanoo practices and have parades, so it has impacted us severely,” he said. “This will be the second year in a row where you will basically have no sounds of goatskin drums, ringing of the cowbells, blowing of horns or dancing and celebrating in the streets. So, it has been a sad state of affairs not to be able to do what we love to do.”
Mr Miller said the JCNP’s “ultimate goal” is to get back to doing what they know and are already accustomed to, which is celebrating on Bay Street with their fans.
“Any plans or execution of anything will only be a temporary thing until we can get back as best as possible to our normal way of doing things and that is having traditional Boxing Day and New Year’s Day parades on Bay Street. We frequently keep updated with the different Junkanoo groups on the island and everyone shares the same sentiment; everyone would love to get back to doing what we do but we have to be realistic and understand what we’re going through.”
Mr Miller said the pandemic has caused Junkanoo, like many other industries, to suffer. However, despite the challenges, he said the JCNP is doing its best to keep members engaged and enthused about the cultural parade.
“If you look at the pandemic’s impact on us, we’ve lost so many Junkanooers over the past year and a half due to COVID-19 and we can’t even memorialise them, so it’s been rough on us all,” he said. “I’d just like to encourage all Junkanooers and Bahamians alike to continue to adhere to the government mandate and respect the COVID protocols: wear your masks, wash your hands, consult with your doctors and, if possible, take the vaccine to protect yourselves and others from this deadly virus.”