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Raft Up under way after rain clears

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The National Heroes Day Raft Up at Shelly Bay (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

Hundreds of people packed out Shelly Bay for a fun-filled National Heroes Weekend Raft Up today.

Nearly 100 boats rafted up for a lively session of pure soca in the sea despite the looming threat of rain throughout the day.

Residents and visitors turned up early to stake their place on the beach as the music barge and pleasure craft made their entrance into the bay.

Jasmine Earle and Nikki Baker travelled to Bermuda from Toronto and Atlanta respectively to attend the holiday weekend’s carnival events.

Ms Earle said: “It’s our first time in Bermuda, it’s a really beautiful island. Everyone is really nice and super hospitable. We go to all of the carnivals we’ve been to Trinidad, Jamaica, St Lucia.”

Ms Baker added: “I think it’s great that Bermuda has its own carnival now, I think every country in the Caribbean area should have their own carnival. You can’t compare them — each country has its own take on it. There’s always going to be a different feel.

“I thought about coming to Bermuda before but when I saw it had a carnival I thought I would kill two birds with one stone.”

Larraine Stevens, a Bermuda resident, was there with her six-month-old son Xi’on Stevens Simons early in the day.

She said: “I love coming to the raft up because it’s a family event and I enjoy the atmosphere. When I came last year I was still pregnant with Xi’on.

“We are here with a few friends and also my eldest son and we’ll be here all day. I’d like it a bit sunnier but at least there’s no rain.”

Kejon Trott, who was in a party mood, told The Royal Gazette: “I love the raft up for the women and the music — I’m a soca fiend.

“I love the atmosphere here. I will also be playing mass in the parade. I’ll be with Party People.”

As the day wore on the party atmosphere revved up a notch and the MC got everyone in the mood for drinking and dancing.

Shondenae Woods had two tanks strapped to her back that she was about to fill with alcohol.

She said: “The liquor comes out of these two taps at the side. There’s three of us girls and we are going to hydra-bike the liquor out to the everyone in the water. It’s really nice here today. Everyone looks like they are having a lot of fun.”

John Filson, Jean Mutombo and Jonathon Camacho were visiting from London and preparing to go for a swim and dance in the water. Mr Camacho said it was one of many carnivals they had visited.

“The music is good, the scene looks good and the atmosphere is sublime.

“Bermuda’s carnival is in its fifth year and it is still finding its feet.”

Leslie Simon from Houston, Texas, brought with her a gigantic inflatable chill island to float on the ocean with her girlfriends.

She said: “We came especially for carnival. It’s my first time, I love it. We were going to go to Aruba but it was too expensive. We are staying in a B&B which works out a bit cheaper.

“I’m impressed by the people in Bermuda and the culture and I love that you have the English accent with a little bit of Caribbean. I love the accent.”

Despite the cloud cover throughout the day the temperature was hot and Jazzy Treats served up cold snacks including snowballs and sherbet shakes.

Alfred Butterfield, the stand owner, said: “It started off slow today but its really hot and people are getting thirsty.”

Jasmine Earle and Nikki Baker (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)
Larraine Stevens and Xi’on Stevens Simons (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)
Kejon Trott and Akil Darrell (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)
Leslie Simon (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)
Shondenae Woods (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)
John Filson, Jean Mutombo and Jonathon Camacho (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)
Alfred Butterfield and Sarah Oatley, owners of Jazzy Treats (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)