South Florida’s Caribbean community showed up by the thousands on Sunday to celebrate at MiamiBroward One Carnival, the start of the colorful festival’s five year run at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
The festivities kicked off early in the day with a splashy parade down Northwest 199th Street and continued well into the night after masquerade bands and revelers made their way into the stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins football team.
A multi-sensory experience, Carnival combines the pulsating sounds of steel drums, the delectable aroma of island food and the vibrant colors of scantily clad dancers decked out in elaborate, sequined costumes.
Carnival is derived from the Catholic pre-Lent costume celebration that began hundreds of years ago. Because slaves were not allowed to participate in the festival, they started their own African-inspired one with drumming and the wearing of feathers, shells and masks.
Today, carnival is a fixture in the Caribbean and South America, starting each year in Trinidad and Tobago. After festivities in other large cities in the U.S. and around the globe, the celebration winds up in South Florida, which kicked off a week of activities with Junior Carnival at the Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Complex in Miami Gardens on Oct. 3
After years of separate, competing festivals, Miami and Broward committees combined their events into one which has outgrown last year’s venue, Miami’s Bicentennial Park.
Soca artist Machel Montano, the Grand Master, received the Cultural Achievement Award from the MiamiBroward One Carnival Host Committee and more than 20 bands competed for the honor of being named Carnival’s best.
“Q” Johnson, 29, performed with perennial winner Fun Generation, which took second place last year. Decked out in the band’s colorful attire as she awaited the judges’ decision, “Q” said not only was she not nervous when they performed but that she fully expected the group to emerge victorious again. “We always win,” she boasted.
A sea of people jammed into the night to the sounds of a DJ and bands, waving their country’s respective flags feverishly and following a singer’s instructions to “move to the left, now move to the right,” dancing enthusiastically in unison.
Jamaican born Peter White, 53, said he attended the event because of the stadium’s close proximity to his Miami Gardens home and to accompany his brother, John, who came down from West Palm Beach for the festivities. Although he is not an avid Carnival fan, White is mindful of the event’s cultural significance.
“I’m surprised at how huge it is,” he said.
Renee Michelle Harris may be reached at RMHarris15@Bellsouth.net.
• Generation X portraying “Cocktails” won the Band of the Year at the MiamiBroward One Carnival Sunday at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
• Verginio Vergin portraying “Division is Evil” in the band Ti Chapo was named King of Carnival.
• Jenny Auxilly portraying “Queen Nandi-Queen of the Zulu Nation” in the band Fun Generation was selected Queen of Carnival.
• Noel St. Lawrence portraying “Purple Passion” in the band Generation X won first place In the Male Individuals category.
• Shania Seeraj portraying “Seduction” in the band Generation X won first place in the Female Individuals category.
Source: MiamiBroward One Carnival