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1000-strong to take the streets

De characters come town…

“The ceremonial delivery of the last canes has always been a traditional celebration and a sign of the end of the harvest,” these were the words of National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Cultural Officer Literary Arts and Producer of the 2019 First Citizens Crop Over Launch and Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes, Mrs. Ayesha Gibson-Gill.

The event will officially herald the start of the Crop Over festivities on Saturday June 8 at Speightstown, St. Peter and will raise the Spirits represented by Sonia Williams, Tahirah Gibbons and Andy ‘MRBLOOD’ Armstrong, along with featured artistes the Mighty Gabby, TC, Mikey, Lil’ Rick, Hypasounds, Quon, Marzville and Stiffy.

Those heading north for the blessing of the canes can expect to see a number of exciting elements including the annual parade, the traditional blessing and a Folk and Soca infused party. There is a dramatised water ritual which will be recorded for later viewing, but all the other aspects of the event will be streamed live for the first time this year, starting at 3:00 p.m.

Mrs. Gibson-Gill said that the event will help to accentuate some of the upcoming events on the Crop Over calendar, as well as to highlight our heritage/traditions and to tell the tale of the interesting stories of Speightstown itself. That’s why the NCF has organised a Scavenger Hunt adventure around the area using QR codes to help tell that story of this important Port City in our history.

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L to R: Walwyn Williams, Head, Operations at First Citizens; Ayesha Gibson-Gill, NCF Cultural Officer, Literary Arts and Producer of the First Citizens Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes; NCF CEO, Carol Roberts-Reifer; Carole Eleuthere-Jn Marie, Chief Executive Officer First Citizens; and Co-Producers of the event, Alicia Payne/Hurley, NCF Cultural Officer Dance and Stacia Bryan, NCF Event Planner.

“It’s a festival for everyone,” she continued, highlighting the many family friendly activities like the parade.

Parade manager and NCF Cultural Officer Dance, Mrs. Alicia Payne/Hurley explained that the parade this year will be one of the largest the NCF has ever produced for this event with 1000-strong participants from almost every school in the north and a cross-section of community groups on the island, performing cultural displays such as the traditional Maypole and Landship dances.

She described the parade as giving the youth and even adults a taste of our traditions and heritage, revitalising important aspects of our culture. Along with the presentation of the usual traditional characters in colourful costumes such as the shaggy bears, stilt walkers and the mother sally, there will be traditional and modern Tuk bands, as well as a drumming presentation from the Israel Lovell Foundation and more.

Payne/Hurley, affectionately termed the ‘Parade Boss’, noted that many Barbadians do not make the link between Crop Over and the significance of sugar cane and the events theme, Journey to the Last Cane, is expected to do just that – to demonstrate the positive and negative aspects sugar has had on Barbados.

With respect to the parade aspects, she stated that her thought process was to bring education to the people in a fun way and what better way to do so than to dress up and be a part of something bigger.

The parade route on this Journey to the Last Cane, will start at Queen Street and make its way across Major Walk to the Speightstown Playing Field where the official Opening Ceremony and the annual blessing of the canes will take place.

The Parade Boss mentioned that her only satisfaction will come from knowing that the children are happy and that people are there to support. She encouraged Barbadians to come out and witness these youth doing something positive, enjoying themselves and chanting ‘bless the canes’.

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