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United in celebration at Bermuda Day Parade

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Gold star: A young performer dazzles in metallics and bright colours as she marches (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

Thousands gathered yesterday to enjoy the Bermuda Day Parade’s vibrant and energetic celebration of our Island.The starting point of the march, at the junction of Marsh Folly Road and Bernard Park, was alive early on with hundreds of dancers, musicians, Gombeys and Shriner clowns, all bedecked in colourful and eye-catching costumes.Continuing a tradition that is at least half a century old, Miss Bermuda and her court perched precariously on the backrest of a convertible, each girl beautifully gowned and crowned.Flowers and foliage transformed more than a dozen trucks, cars and even a bus into ocean scenes and bowers of flowers.Participants included the Bermuda Regiment, whose float reproduced a uniquely Bermudian terraced lawn with a benign canon acting as a garden feature, accompanied by honour guard.The Department of Corrections’ entry depicted life under the sea, with turtles, sea horses and brightly hued reef fish. Lobsters lurked under handcrafted rocks and a shark basked near the flowered ocean floor. United Dance Productions were out in force with at least 60 students dressed in rainbow-hued tutus and elaborate make-up. It had been seven or eight years since the well-established dance school had taken part in the parade, said founder and artistic director Suzette Harvey. “We’ll have fun and give back to the community,” she said before the parade began. “We have about 65 dancers with us today. For a lot of these children it will be their first time, because they are new, and young. “We’re going to be doing soca and hip-hop, and we have a couple of contemporary pieces to try out on the street, to show we are a dance group.”Her dancers aged from 3 to 18. “They are wearing tutus to demonstrate that they are ballet dancers, with florescent sneakers to show the hip-hop side of it,” Ms Harvey said.The Anointed Step Dance Ministry School opened just a year ago and were celebrating their first anniversary by participating in the parade. School founder Carmelita Millett said the students learn liturgical dance, hip-hop, ballet, tap and mime. “I always wanted a dance school since I was young, and it has come to pass,” she said. “This is a great way to celebrate a first birthday.”Dozens of her students were dressed in white outfits with the school’s colourful logo emblazoned on their shirts. Although the young people learn a variety of dance styles, “we’re doing hip-hop today”.While waiting for the parade to start, some members of Richardson’s Gombey Troupe explained that they were part of a 15-member group. Isaiah Smith, 13, said he had been dancing since he was 5 and has lost count of the number of parades in which he had participated. “We will be doing Fast Dance, Masquerade and Junkanoo,” he said, explaining that they are all special Gombey dance numbers.Shriner Louie “Loonie Tunes” O’Neill from New York, dressed in a clown costume, said: “We heard it had been a while since you had clowns in the parade so we were invited down to represent the Shriner clowns. “Bermuda Shriner Darrius Tucker invited the ‘Nobles’ [Shriners call each other Nobles] to come.” A local Shriner, Kirk “Lucky the Clown” Wade, was also taking part. The Shriners explained that they have a clown’s club and a clown college where they learn the craft of clowning, particularly to cheer up hospital patients and raise money for Shriners’ hospitals, where children, often burns victims, receive free treatment. More than 81 members of the Vasco Da Gama Club, the youngest just 6, were decked out in handcrafted blue, silver and white sequinned dresses and suits. Club president Dennis Rodrigues said that they would be performing traditional Portuguese dances. “We’re celebrating the patron saint of lovers, São João,” he added. “Two ladies will be sitting on a garden park bench on our float and singing as we go along.”The Ikas Dance Group dressed in the parade’s floral theme, many with their faces painted with swirling tendrils, flowers and glitter.There were about a dozen dancers with their leaders, including Kiantae Glasford, who said that they would be performing soca and hip-hop routines on the parade route. St John Ambulance Bermuda was in the parade and on the sidelines should there be a medical emergency. They were led by their chairman, Justin Williams, who said they had a mobile hospital tent staffed by EMTs, an ambulance — which responded to a spectator’s intense allergic reaction and a number of first-aid situations — a colour guard and three squads in the parade, accompanied by three ambulances.“These included our mobile clinic, donated by XL Reinsurance and Medic 9, the result of a recent anonymous donation.“We were also proud to introduce our rapid individual response motor cycles. We would like to thank the Commissioner of Police, Michael DeSilva, for making this possible with the kind donation of two retired auxiliary police motorcycles.”Dr Phyllis Curtis-Tweed, principal of the Berkeley Institute, was looking proudly out over dozens of the school’s band members and majorettes, who were sparkling in Berkeley-hued gold, green and white-sequinned and fringed costumes. She said the band was established in 2012, and that this was third time they have performed in the parade.The band performs under the direction of John Woolridge, with the assistance of Karen Carlington, a music teacher at the school. Preparations for the parade took place in the arts department, headed up by Nikia Manders. Dr Curtis-Tweed said: “She is the dance teacher and she put together the routines.” The school also had help from Berkeley alumna Cher-Ann Brangman, who has experience with marching bands through the Bermuda Regiment, Dr Curtis-Tweed added. Sisters Tenisha and Shalane Dill decorated the truck that was to travel with them. “It looks phenomenal,” she said.Contemporary tracks including Uptown Funk and Shake It Off were to be performed by the school band.Tucked into the cab of his float “Gladwin Smith Presents Land and Sea”, its maker said he had been building floats for a quarter of a century. This year he created a garden and traditional moon gate, with reef fish swimming along the side of a transformed bus, the cab of which was decorated with vibrant yellow flowers. “It depicts the yellow submarine,” he said. “The idea is that you can explore Bermuda — Bermuda underwater and the Atlantic garden. I’ve been doing floats for 25 years and I have won just about every prize there is to win.”This year was no exception — he showed off his plaque for the Mrs JJ Outerbridge Award for Best Garden Float. Without spectators there would be no parade, and along the route, the Symonds family were watching from a spot opposite the Tennis Stadium, from which they have enjoyed the spectacle for the past three years. Nine members of the family attended, including matriarch Mary Symonds, who had several grandchildren and great-grandchildren with her. The Butterfield family also had a prime viewing spot, at the turn-off for St John’s Church and the Tennis Stadium. One of the 15 family members and friends enjoying the show was Jannikas Pascoe, who said: “I’ve been doing this all my life.” For the past five or six years, she has run a refreshment stall, called Jazzy Treats, selling sherbet, snowballs and ice cream bars.“But this year is a year off, to enjoy the parade,” she said.• For more photographs of the parade, click on the online photo galleries at the bottom of our home page

Crowd pleaser: This performer's eye-catching costume was a hit with the crowds (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Thousands gather to enjoy the annual Bermuda Day Parade (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Chewstick members covered in paint join in the festivities (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Going for gold: One of many elaborate and stunning costumes seen during the festivities (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Midas touch: This parade participant makes sure he wins the gold for effort (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Crowds enjoy the celebrations (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Smiling residents and visitors soaked up the Carnival atmosphere on Front Street (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Gombeys and live bands thrilled the crowds gathered to watch the Parade (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
A young majorette shines in silver and blue (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Pretty in pink: One of numerous dance groups who showcased their skills for the crowds (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Winning fans: This colourful ballerina was a big hit (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)