kids_carnival_web.jpgThe football/track field at the new Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Complex was awash in vibrant colors Sunday during the Miami Carnival Junior Carnival Street Parade and Concert.

Children aged 3-16 were decked out in Carnival costumes, many featuring elaborate feather and hat designs. They included Rubbie Asensio wearing an elaborate green-and-white skirt and halter top with large feathered wings and glitter make-up. For her the fun part was getting ready for the show.

“I love dressing up and dancing,” said Rubbie, 9, who has been donning the trademark costumes of the Carnival since she was 10 months old.

Her grandmother, Shaheeda Asensio, who designed her costume,  was happy to share a part of her Trinidadian heritage with her granddaughter.

“It’s a part of our culture and I love to do it, it’s in the blood,” she said. “I make the costumes and we never repeat the same thing twice.”

Rubbie was among more than 100 children taking part in this year’s event at the recreational complex, 3200 NW 199th St., Miami Gardens.

“Carnival is special in that it is the one cultural tradition that’s synonymous among every Caribbean island,” said Marlon Hill, a member of the MiamiBroward One Carnival Committee. “It is important for young people to get a real understanding of who they are because carnival is a part of their history.”

Part of that history includes elaborate costumes like another that Sasha Donaldson, 13, of Jamaican descent, wore. She sported a costume adorned with a halter top and skirt made of gold lame fabric with an elaborate hoop skirt and matching wide brimmed hat festooned with flowers.

Andrew Azebeokhai, a Carnival judge for five years and president of the Greater Caribbean American Cultural Coalition, said because many Caribbean children are born and grow up in the U.S., the importance of maintaining the connection to their culture takes on great significance.

For Marla Guerin, whose son Tristan, 9, took part for the first time this year, the Junior Carnival was a way to introduce him to her Trinidadian heritage.

“I want him to gain a true understanding of what the culture is like and how big a deal Carnival is for us Trinidadians,” Guerin said. “If he were in Trinidad he would be participating in Carnival and I want him to experience this part of the culture.”

Miami Gardens Councilwoman Sharon Pritchett, the parade’s Grand Marshall, said the festival “celebrates who we are as a people and it’s nice because we can share with each other.”


Staff Writer Renee Michelle Harris contributed to this report.