If you are around the Bahamas on Boxing Day (December 26th), New Year’s Day (Jan 1st), or in the summer you will have the opportunity to experience a cultural extravaganza unlike any other – Junkanoo. Though the name might suggest a parade of old, beat-up cars, don’t let it fool you! It is anything but! Various groups compete for cash prizes for best costumes, best music, and best overall group performance. The groups vary in size from a few dozen to several hundred, but the imagination and skills that go into their presentations are beyond belief.
The costumes and floats are constructed from beautifully-colored crepe paper and cardboard. Some performers in a group simply wear their costume, but others have elaborate constructions built over frames that an individual carries on their shoulders, and there are even larger and more elaborate floats on wheels (but even these are hand-propelled by humans). At the tail end of each group is a band playing loudly on goatskin drums, cowbells, whistles, and horns and the performers that precede them are dancing to the rhythm of the music created. Each group marches down the parade route with a separation between groups so the music does not compete. The groups move slowly; while the time of passage of each group depends on its size, it can take from 10 to 20 minutes for a group to pass.
The theme for each group changes from year to year, I believe, so they have to create anew each year. And they practice all year long to perfect their performances and costumes trying to win the cash prizes.
While we attended the Junkanoo in Freeport (Grand Bahama Island) tonight you could have also attended one in Nassau, Eleuthera/Harbour Island, Bimini, The Exumas, or The Abacos. Junkanoos are also held in Miami in June or Key West in October.
A group of us from our wedding party group went into Freeport to see the Junkanoo. It started around 6:00 pm and we stayed for over an hour but left because it started sprinkling.
The streets were blocked off to provide a parade route and there was some seating available at a fee in the judging area of the route. Outside that were rows of vendor booths, mostly with food. You could purchase whole dinners there or snacks.
This afternoon most of our party was at the pool area, enjoying the sun. Taylor and Bailey participated in a balloon toss event and Taylor, Bailey, and Angel took a parasail ride out over the ocean. While they were up in the air Shauna and Elaine paddled a kayak out in the ocean and the parasail just happened to pass overhead while they were there.
We signed up to play with the dolphins today at a cost we thought would be around $35-40 each and were told it was only a 3-4 minute walk to get there. Both were lies! The walk was more like 15-20 minutes and required several stops along the way for pain to subside. And when we got there we were told the price was over $90 each. Being misled, we decided to let the dolphins be by themselves this time. And then we had the long walk back to the resort.