No funding or health approval for scaled back parades
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The cancellation of both Junkanoo parades this holiday season marks the first time the annual event has not been staged in more than 65 years, according to Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence (JCNP) President Dion Miller.
Miller said the organization will be partnering with ZNS and Junkanoo242, a local talk show, to produce a virtual parade that will be shown beginning 10pm on Christmas Day and again at 2am on New Year’s Day.
Miller said every Junkanoo group was asked to submit footage of their best parade over the past decade that will be aired with live commentary, with groups explaining the thought process surrounding their selection and experiences over the years.
He noted that while early discussions had hope for smaller and more controlled Junkanoo rushouts, that plan was simply not feasible.
“We tried to come back with several scaled back parade models but it was just difficult to get approval for any of those models,” Miller explained.
“Then we got hit with the financial impact that we weren’t able to secure any funding at all to conduct any of those models.
“So, we were hit with a double whammy in that we didn’t have the approval from the health officials and then the funding that we traditionally see every year did not come through as well due to COVID-19.
“To put one of those A Category groups to Bay Street is about $250,000 but all of our corporate sponsors, as well as our partners in government, they have been severely impacted by COVID-19, so the funding just wasn’t there.”
The government announced the official cancellation of the 2020/2021 season last month due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
However, some groups had already begun bracing for the eventuality due to the pace of the global pandemic.
“The Junkanoo community right now are still in a state of shock and disbelief that we are now some four days away from what would have been the Boxing Day parade and this year due to COVID there will be absolutely no parade,” Miller told Eyewitness News.
“This will be the first time since 1953 that there isn’t any organized Junkanoo in the country and so we are all still kind of shell-shocked.”
Miller noted that while Junkanooers are grateful to have the time to spend with their family during the season, they remain conflicted over the cancellation because there is still that “burn and that desire for Junkanoo and our culture”.
“This is a strange year, one that many of us imagined would never happen,” he continued.
“We are eager to get into talks with the government about the next year 2021 and the possibility of having a parade. We are grateful for the time to spend with our family and loved ones, but it’s strange not to be stressed out, getting ready to compete and celebrate this thing called Junkanoo.”
The JCNP president noted that the absence of parades this year is a “big loss” to the Bahamian society and Bahamian culture, calling the reality “disheartening” and “distressing”.
“Christmas just doesn’t feel the same,” Miller added.
“You don’t feel that electricity knowing you have this competition coming. There’s no buzz. It’s almost doom and gloom to some extent. Twenty-twenty has been a strange year and we just can’t wait to get to 2021.”