Sunday, January 17, 2016

Carnival Kickoff Parade

Yesterday I was able to observe the official kickoff to the Carnival season here on Dominica. We spent most of our time along the waterfront as a long parade snaked its way through the capital city of Roseau. I had attended a Carnival parade on St. Lucia while I was there for my pre-service training (, but this parade was different—it seemed to me there was less emphasis on revelry and skimpy costumes. It was more of a traditional parade rather than simply an opportunity to march and party simultaneously.

Although there were differences, both of these Caribbean parades were entertaining to watch! Because I'm not an expert on explaining everything I witnessed, I am going to use these pictures to tell the story:

Below is an example of the decorated trucks that carried the Carnival queen and her court (the contestants typically sat on a "throne" in the back of the truck and waved to the crowd).

I'm not sure if the white costumes in the back were made from shredded paper, but it might become a good use for shredder paper. Notice the beautiful scenery in the distant background.
I know there is some sort of tradition in Caribbean Carnival parades for a group to blacken their skin with oil or whatever.
This group is from the Kalinago territory, which is a part of the island set aside for the remaining native population (a bit like an Indian reservation in the U.S.). Notice the grass skirts the woman are wearing. They are known for the basketry, and some of their tops were actually woven baskets.
I've never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but I know that masks are often used there—just as masked characters are also seen here.
The following three pictures show some of the groups who traversed the entire parade route on stilts. They were very talented!
Dominica has a tradition of children building their own steerable trucks, called “cabaways.” They are pushed by a stick which holds the steering device. Some of them were very elaborate.
Perhaps the costumes below would be good for a WVU Mountaineer game?
Just as in America, there were colorful flag corps of young girls.
This group of girls were twirling umbrellas in unison.
Perhaps I am biased, but I think my credit union had one of the best floats.
As the last sound truck passed by (with the loudest speakers of all the sound trucks), the crowd was free to join in and follow the parade, which we did. [This is the street where the Peace Corps office is located.]
Finally, this bunch of helium balloons that escaped from one of the floats made me think of the 1983 pop hit “99 Red Balloons.”


  1. So colorful....Thanks for sharing.

  2. fantastic - such a beautiful series of contrasts! Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Mr. Kurtz. I hope you are doing well. I really enjoy your blogs. Your mountaineers are playing well. It sure pleases me to see you doing such great work. Mike Hill

  4. Mr. Kurtz. I enjoy following you on your blogs. It pleases me to see such a good role model volunteering time. Btw your mountaineers are doing well. Take care my friend.