Trinidad and Tobago


Carnival confusion in Miami

Plans for 2 festivals

July 16, 2001

AFTER five years of unity, Miami Carnival is in the throes of another acrimonious standoff between bandleaders and the body that brought them together to stage the united version.

Word reaching the Express is that, once again, two Carnivals will now take place on the Columbus Day weekend in Miami, with one parade having its climax at Bicentennial Park and the other at the Opa-locka airport grounds.

In the circumstances, the United Miami Carnival Management Committee (UMCMC) is no more, replaced now by Miami Carnival Inc (MCI), which is the version staying at the Opa-locka site.

The MCI claims the support of 20 bands, including presentations from Orlando, Boston, New York, Toronto, Bahamas, Cayman and the USVI, with music power provided by several already contracted soca bands from Trinidad.

The two parallel events are being referred to as the Uptown and Downtown Carnivals, with the Miami/Dade (downtown) version claiming the support of a united group of bandleaders.

The scene this year will therefore resemble what obtained before warring factions of the Caribbean population came together in 1997 to end 13 years of divisiveness.

The new downtown Carnival will have to foot the price of rental of Bicentennial Park and police and fire/safety costs, but its organisers seem pretty confident, offering bandleaders profit sharing deals and other incentives.

For the Opa-locka Carnival, the county underwrites such expenses and organisers of that activity say they have been assured of continued support from traditional sponsors like Western Union Money Transfer, Guinness and Hennessy Brandy.

Adding intrigue to the already confusing scenario are the claims of both sides that there will be no disruption to their plans and, of course, each side claims to have the better Carnival.

The new downtown version is clear that it has the support of some 30 costumed bands, while the Opa-locka management team says it already has 20 bands registered. Miami Carnival, even as a single, unified entity has never been able to field more than 26 bands.

Sources say the new group has the support of the TT/USA Chamber of Commerce, a powerful lobby that has close links with the TT Consulate in Miami.

Consul-General Chandrath Singh took credit for the unification of polarised groups five years ago and there is still hope that he will call both factions to the table to avoid the friction currently obtaining.

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