Thursday, May 1, 2008

Music, fun, dance - It's a Parade!

I have seen a few parades on the island and they are always on Independence Day, September 15th. All of the school children get dressed up in their best clothes. Some of the boys don military uniforms, some are in marching band costumes. The girls are dressed either in elegant ball gowns or cheerleader costumes. The main instruments are drums, drums and more drums. A few carry cymbals but that is the extent of the source of music. It is fun to watch and rather lengthy because all of the schools on the island are represented. Occasionally they make an attempt at decorating according to the theme (whatever that is) but, for the most part, it is just all the school children marching in different clothes and letting their families and friends see the efforts of their days of practice! We all have fun and there are smiles and applause. It is a very gay event and I thoroughly enjoy it. At one time I had lots of photos from previous parades, but they were lost to Mitch!

While in LaCeiba a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine and his wife asked me to join them on the street near the beach for a Garifuna Parade. I walked down to the beach and arrived at the destination where I observed all the various parade marchers waiting for the show to get on the road. There were fascinating various groups of people from different sections of the represented areas all waiting for the signal to start marching.

The parade in LaCeiba was a demonstration of the music and dance of the Garifuna people. Handmade bright costumes were worn by the women. The instruments, again, were of one source: various handmade “bongo” drums. The music was provided by the drums and the chanting of the people.

It seemed like no one knew when the parade would start and once it did there was really no crowd control to speak of. A large firetruck was situated about 1/4th the way through the parade and what its purpose was I really don’t know. At one point, after the parade finally started moving, the truck stopped, the driver turned on the siren and got out and walked away. Needless to say this was very irritating to the ears. Eventually the driver returned, turned off the siren (thank goodness), and the parade continued on.

The women danced, the drums played and the people chanted and, by viewing the video, you can get an idea of the rhythm of the parade.

The dancer in this video had the most "risque" costume; all others were quite demure in nature. Colors were bright and it was a carnival mood. Of course, crowd control was out of the question and the parade was slightly disturbed by the appearance of people off the street marching in amongst the dancers! There seems to be very little organization as to what will happen or when but the paraders seem to easily accept the intrusion of non-parade members.

Decorations are usually crepe paper and some imaginative soul put a musical note on their porch pillar!

Children, too, were a part of the parade and always add a smile to everyones face.

Dancers were gyrating and even bid us welcome! I was surprised that the majority of the women dancing were older and had rather "ample" bodies. What was surprising was how well they could move and dance! A lesson here is that no matter your size, you can move as gracefully as anyone if you have the will and desire!

Finally, the end of the parade was in sight and as no parade is complete without a "Queen", this one was no exception.

A good time was had by all and I must thank my friend, Ian Fisher, for taking the photos and videos as I, foolishly, left my camera back at the hotel!


  1. I love to watch the Garifuna dance. I love the costumes, too. They always seem to enjoy the parades which make it more fun to watch.

  2. Your blogs are, as always, very entertaining and interesting! I still think you have a book in you!