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Pledge to do what we can for parade’s future

Patriotic show-stoppers: United Dance Productions dancers stole the parade. (Photograph supplied)

Three days ago I made my way into Hamilton for my “annual freeloading and hitting up everybody’s camp day”, more commonly known as the Bermuda Day Parade. As I made the rounds, I noticed a less-than-usual vibrancy among the crowd. Everyone was simply sitting down, sedate and calm.

I stopped at a few camps and asked how the day was going and the universal reply was that the parade had at least three glowing glitches:

• A lack of floats

• A lack of majorettes

• No soca truck

As I processed these observations, the first thought that came to mind was that less than 24 hours earlier, we had all been dreading the thunderstorms that had been forecast for the big day; yet now, here we were soaking in sunshine, peace and harmony instead of getting soaking wet from the rain. So, as boring as it might have seemed, we all should have been ecstatic for that fact alone.

The very next day, Bermuda’s top emcee, Patrina “Power Girl” Paynter, aka “Ms Greenhouse”, posted something profound on Facebook, which started an avid online debate.

“I woke up this morning and thought I would ask the question: ‘How will we as a community help to make the parade better next year?’ The quality and content of the parade depends on if people participate or not. I am not into the pointing fingers and blame game ... I put it back on us as a community. (Me included) I am not sure why people do not get involved or why so many groups don’t participate any more.”

Needless to say, the feedback was highly diverse. Many women mentioned their disappointment about the lack of majorette groups and how they themselves had spent countless hours as young women practising for the various majorette groups.

Another observation made was that the funding to subsidise the building of floats might have been cut. On that same topic, it was also stated that the stringent rule about using only natural products, such as flowers, cut down on the amount of people willing to go that extra mile.

What no one could have foreseen was that, with Bermuda Heroes Weekend coming along in only three weeks, many younger people were simply putting their time, money and effort into preparing their costumes, trucks and T-shirts for that event. This subsequently took away from the Bermuda Day Parade. A suggestion was posited that the competition between dance groups be reinstated to help bring back some adrenalin rush to the parade. I am not sure why it was taken out of the programme but there is some merit to the suggestion.

The one thing everyone agreed on was that the top acts of the parade were United Dance Productions dancing group and the Gombeys.

It is clear we are all concerned about the level of participation and standards in our parade and, as such, we should do what we can to assist the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs going forward. It is truly not that department’s fault that many of the usual floats chose not to participate or that the weather forecast caused the soca truck to pull out of the parade.

There are three women in particular who deserve much credit for pulling off this year’s event, despite impending thunderstorms — Patrina Paynter, Carly Lodge and Veney Sims. They dedicated countless hours over the past six months to ensure that this annual event went ahead.

If you see these ladies on the street, give them a hug (get their permission first) and thank them for their efforts. And if you have a viable set of ideas for next year’s event, I am sure they will love to hear them.

I am grateful for this parade because I still got to freeload on the abundance of swizzle, cookies, cake, chicken and tons of hugs. See you all at Cup Match.

Proud to be Bermudian.