The 2015 Love Rush Junkanoo Parade enjoyed a number of firsts this year as the celebratory weekend of Junkanoo and Bahamian culture kicked off on Feb. 20-21. The event was sponsored by BTC and Bahamian Brewing Company.
As promised by the All Abaco Junkanoo and Cultural Committee Chairman – Anthony “Big Mo” Morley – the Junior Junkanoo parade began on time with Grace Baptist Preschool (GBPS) out the gate shortly after 6 p.m.
The tiny performers were not intimidated as they marched down Don Mackay Boulevard in brilliant colours that depicted the beloved characters of Little Bo Peep, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Humpty Dumpty, Three Blind Mice and Hey Diddle Diddle to the cheers of adoring fans. Their characters perfectly executed their theme “Fun With Nursery Rhymes.”
Frankie Fleuridor and Shelly Austin hosted the event and added to the excitement with their lively remarks as they introduced each school in the line-up.
Still, it was a disappointment for fans this year not to see Central Abaco Primary School (CAPS) or Forest Heights Academy’s students making an appearance, who have had incredible showings in the past, but the schools that did show up put on a stellar performance.
Nevertheless, in the primary school category, the students of St. Francis de Sales Catholic School and Treasure Cay Primary School came out in great form and style.
This year was the first time that St. Francis had ever participated, and their performance included the school’s pre-schoolers along with primary school students. St. Francis’ theme celebrated “50 Years of Building Character through Faith, Knowledge and Service.”
While the students positioned by the banner wore their uniforms, the performers and musicians were adorned in yellows and blues with the St. Francis emblem displayed on their head pieces.
The parade was briefly interrupted for the opening ceremony. Rev. Dr. Silbert Mills was called on to give the opening prayer, while Preston Roberts, chairman of the Junkanoo Committee’s Taskforce, gave the welcome address. Next, in line for remarks was Chairman Morley, who thanked the audience for braving the cold weather to join in on the celebration.
“I must say that we had long, hard working sessions to bring you by far what is one of the most exciting parades I’ve seen,” he said. “I’m very happy about the production of schools like Treasure Cay, and I’m also happy with the production of St. Francis because they look like they’re ready to compete against Nassau.”
Chairman Morley thanked all for coming as well as his committee members, and he expressed his pride in Forest Heights Academy going to Nassau and capturing “an achievement we can all be proud of.”
“If you look around at the productions, you will notice that the quality is much better, and I attribute that to the hardworking staff from all the schools. Next year is going to be even better!”
Hinting at the following night, Chairman Morley said that they could look forward to seeing an All-Abaco production for the first time.
“Nothing was imported,” he said of the Senior Parade. “This is a no-alcohol zone, and no liquor will be served at any Junior Junkanoo parade. It’s another achievement we can be proud of.”
In his address, MP for North Abaco and Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Renardo Curry welcomed everyone to the cultural event that he described as an expression of The Bahamas’ culture. He congratulated all the schools that were participating, and applauded the teachers, administration and students of each school for working so hard to make the costumes.
“To the chairman and the committee, the event is good for the community and serves as a moment of pride for all Bahamians and visitors who come and enjoy our festivities,” Curry said.
Curry also welcomed his colleague Parliamentary Secretary for the Dept. of Immigration Cleola Hamilton; and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon. Fred Mitchell.
The next speaker was the Director of Youth Sports and Culture, Dr. Linda Moxey-Brown, who shared that it does her heart well whenever she can attend a Junkanoo parade throughout The Bahamas.
“It tells me that our culture is still alive and well, and those same people who paraded earlier tonight in the preschool into the primary school [categories], they are our future Junkanooers,” Dr. Moxey-Brown expressed. “I love them dearly, and I want to say hats off to all those who’ve been working with them over the months to bring them to this point in the parade.”
Austin also acknowledged Deputy Director of Culture Eddie Dames, Director of Junior Junkanoo Pastor Henry Higgins, and Chairmen of the National Junkanoo Committee George Bethel and William “Bill” Wallace along with Arthur Thompson who accompanied them.
Finally, Minister Johnson concluded the ceremony by applauding everyone involved, and commending Forest Heights Academy on its win in Nassau.
Turning back to the parade, Abaco Central High School (ACH) was the final competitor to storm the streets with their attractive banner – “Celebrating Festive Occasions.” Brilliant flurries of colour were seen as the free dancers gyrated, swirled and danced to the rhythm of the drums, cowbells, whistles and horns rounded out by the brass section.
The Junior Junkanoo parade ended with the rake n’ scrape sounds of Eugene Davis aka Geno D, renowned Bahamian music artist, who is originally from Abaco.
On Tuesday, the results were in, and The Abaconian is happy to report that:
Grace Baptist Pre-School placed first in the pre-school category as the only participant.
1st place winner: Treasure Cay Primary School. They were awarded 504 points for banner; 112 points for execution of theme; 791 for costume, 447 points for music; and 377 points for group performance: Overall total was 2,231 points.
2nd place winner – St. Francis de Sales Catholic School’s Grades 1 & 2. They were awarded 316 points for banner; 64 points for execution of theme; 468 for costume, 398 points for music; and 332 points for group performance: Overall total was 1,578 points.
Abaco Central High School was the only participant, so they placed first. Banner:491; Execution of theme: 98; Costume: 749; Music: 469; Group Performance: 439. Total: 2,246.