mia-bro-carnival_2011_steelpanband_web.jpgMIAMI GARDENS — Following months of intense practice at a Lauderhill warehouse, members of the Silver Stars USA ’mas band pulled their van in front of the Miami Broward One Carnival judges’ viewing stand Sunday and let the cavernous and melodic sounds of their steel pans resonate throughout the crowd.

The carnival audience, some in tiered seating, others standing along the parade route on the grounds at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, swayed to the music as the artists belted out their theme song, Trini.

For the group, which formed three years ago under band manager Anthony Linley and music arranger Lloyd Pane, it was their first carnival appearance.

“I think we did great,” said group captain Jonathan Baboolal, 19, as the members grabbed food and started to unwind following their performance. “It was a great team effort.”

Pane, who was with the award-winning Silver Stars Steel Pan in Trinidad and Tobago, has been working locally with the mostly high school — and college-age group to teach them what he calls “the Silver Stars style” and has improvised the arrangement to reflect his own style.

“We’re still in the infant stage,” Linley said about his new group, “but I also think we did a good job.”

Linley, whose son, Anthony Jr., is also a member, said it is important that the youth in South Florida keep the steel pan tradition alive — the reason he started the group. The interest — about 22 members from Broward and Miami-Dade — has been enthusiastic, he said. One of the parents donated the warehouse space where the group practices weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The Silver Stars, the second of five steel pan bands that performed at the Miami Broward Carnival, were to find out Wednesday evening —  past the South Florida Times deadline — what judges thought of their artistry.

The steel pan competition was the first in three categories to be reviewed during the carnival

showcase. The competitors included masqueraders in the colorful ’mas band contest and the ’mas band king and queen competition.

Judges need a few days before they announce the results as the competition continued throughout the late night, carnival publicist Yvette Harris said.

Indeed, the judges and performers had a full day and evening of activities. The carnival parade through the streets of Miami Gardens was supposed to start at noon but got off to a late start because of rain.

But threatening skies probably played a role in reduced attendance, Harris said. Organizers said at least 10,000 people came to the festival, compared to an anticipated 15,000.

In a prepared statement released Tuesday afternoon, members of the Miami Broward One Hope Committee blamed the weather for a carnival schedule that was still going on past 11 p.m. and for the fact that the headline act Alison Hinds was unable to perform due to contractual obligations to the stadium.

Indeed, it was after 3:30 p.m. when judges saw the first truck pulling the first steel band, the Lauderhill Steel Ensemble, to the viewing stand.  The steel pan performances were followed by 21 ’mas bands, each of which strutted out its kings and queens, section leaders and masqueraders who gyrated, twisted and rolled their hips atop a raised platform in front of the judges.

Chief judge Arthur Joseph said the carnival’s 11 judges came from Miami, Trinidad and Tobago and New York.

“The carnival here has been improving,” said Joseph, who has been a carnival judge in Trinidad and Tobago and Miami for the past 20 years. This is his first year as chief judge. “It’s not Trinidad or London,” he said of those larger carnivals that take place at other times during the year, “but the good quality of the ’mas bands in Miami will come over time.”

Joseph said he is looking forward to the growth in size and quality of the Miami Broward festival.

So is Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson. The city is in year two of a five-year agreement to host carnival in Miami Gardens.

“In South Florida, carnival started here,” Gibson said of the area’s first carnival.  “It’s probably divine providence that they came back home.”

Photo: Khary Bruyning/for south florida times

STEEL PAN VIRTUOSO: The newly crowned Miss Miami Broward One Carnival Kashunda Flatts performs with the Pantastic Steel Orchestra during the Miami Broward One Carnival festivities on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.