HOLLYWOOD — Like other artists who graced the stage Saturday at Color of the Caribbean festival, Jahnathan Nerrette came to be a part of a cultural exposé for the community, a key ideal on which the festival is built.
Nerrette, 17, may be native to Miami but his roots are Haitian, which explains the musical influences behind his
12-song mixtape, Grassroots. “This is about unity, and it’s a great thing,” he said.
The Colors of the Caribbean festival maintained energy in its third year. There, for one day during Caribbean-American Heritage Month, at the Hollywood ArtsPark, the whole community is welcome to celebrate the diverse foods and arts in a family environment.
The festival was open to the public thanks to heavy-weight sponsors such as the Caribbean American Heritage Florida Inc. (CAHFI), and The Rhythm Foundation. CAHFI’s executive board president Asa Sealy is this annual event’s coordinator. “It’s about coming together and uniting all the islands inclusively,” Sealy said.
The entertainment highlighted more Caribbean artists than just the popular Jamaican and Soca artists typically found at these types of festivals, instead kicking off with a Bahamian Junkanoo and Moko Jumbie parade.
Music showcased the unique flavor and rhythm of the islands, with Wayne Wonder representing Jamaica, Midnite for the Virgin Islands and DJ Majestic for Trinidad & Tobago.
The atmosphere at Young Circle was buzzing but not overcrowded. Last year the performances were ahead of schedule; this year they were a little behind to accommodate the crowds waiting on the weather, according to DJ Majestic, who graced the stage twice. Cyclists veered around face-painted children darting from tent to tent on their quest for more free merchandise, the T-shirts and sunglasses the ultimate prizes.
Though the weather was Florida humid and the sky threatened with rain, the only individuals to get wet were the kids in the children’s play area in the interactive splash fountain. First timer Jamaican Latoya Bailey, 36, heard about the festival through HOT 105.1 FM. “I wish I knew there was a splash park,” she admitted ruefully as she watched her son from a safe, dry distance. “Then I would have brought him a change of clothes.”
Others learned about Colors of the Caribbean through word of mouth like her friend Sheray Cross, from Ocala, or were attracted by the reggae beats.
Many people, like Matthew Taylor from Cuba, were found sitting along the edge of the fountain designed by international public artist Ritsuko Taho of Japan and resting their legs after sampling the food and visiting the venders.