By: Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (DECEMBER, 2017)- Each year for Sugar Mas (St.Kitts-Nevis National Carnival), scores of revellers and spectators alike customarily take to the streets of Basseterre for the well-anticipated J’ouvert jam session and this time around was not different as plenty got in the mix for Sugar Mas 46!
What was different, however, was an earlier cut-off time instead of the usual 12 noon stop watch as put in place by the local authorities in an effort to utilise resources in the safety interest of revellers and cruise ship passengers.
At about 10:20 AM on Tuesday 26th December, this year’s J’ouvert ended prematurely according to the traditional routine.
Following the jam session, this reporter interacted with a few revellers and spectators-including visitors- to get their take on J’ouvert 2017 including of course the early end time.
This media house also had the opportunity to chit-chat with Commissioner of Police Ian Queeley while he was on duty as well as former Police Commissioner Austin Williams who was a socialising spectator.
This media house understands that over five (5) cruise ships were docked in the Federation that day, with over 6,000 passengers collectively.
COP Queeley said he was pleased with the behavior of the revellers whom he applauded as well as the bands for their cooperation.
“I want to say that I’m very pleased with the behavior of the revellers this morning. The activities went very well in my view. They came out early as was expected and very little resistance was received when they were told that they have to finish at the prescribed time so I want to commend the bands as well for their cooperation and all of the revellers. I think it was fairly good incident. I don’t have all of
the reports as yet (but) I know if there was something major I would have been informed already.”
Commenting on the shortened timespan for J’ouvert, he shared: “That was the prescribed time. As was indicated earlier, police have resource restraints to deal with. There are seven cruise ships in port with our resources just stretching too thin and we want to make certain that the visitors are safe while the revellers enjoy themselves.”
Read on to see what others had to say about this year’s jump, wave and gyrate street-style extravaganza.
“J’ouvert was alright but the bands ain’t organised still; they take too long to organise. I ain’t see no tourist on the road; usually we see the tourists on the road but that should be something good for them because they get to see Carnival at its best because J’ouvert morning is something that everybody look forward to so to say we had to stop around 10 O’clock for cruise ships that are in and I ain’t seeing no tourists, it didn’t make any sense to me. It was a clean jam; I ain’t see no fights to talk about. Everything was good to me.”
“J’ouvert was mad! Finishing early was bulls**t. I wanted it to go longer! I started partying since 4AM but I wanted more. To the organisers, next time around stop play; we want the jam to go until 12!”
“I’m just visiting for the Christmas. I’m on the Sagitta which is a sail boat which holds 25 passengers so it’s not very big. It’s not like one of the big ones. I’m from Minnesota in the US. I love it! It is great! I was born in St. Lucia but I was never able to go to Carnival there.”
“The wet down was fantastic! The water truck was fantastic! The band was awesome. Everybody was coordinating and going with the music and it’s sad that it ended early for the tourists. I understand tourism but the tourists could have jumped in. We need to teach them how to jump in and participate instead of ending early; that is it but it was good look.”
“Well I can say that J’ouvert this year was a whole lot fun! The only downside was the early end. I’m sure the cruise ship tourists would have liked to jump up with us.”
“I love it! I’m enjoying it! I’m coming back next year!”
“J’ouvert was good. I really enjoyed J’ouvert. J’ouvert 2017 was epic! I wish it went on for the usual end time because I could have done an extra hour or two.”
“I think J’ouvert was good. It was orderly. The security forces did a good job and I got to say congratulations to the revelers and the security forces for giving us a peaceful J’ouvert. I believe the early shut off time was kind of like a drastic move. I could understand somewhere along the line but maybe a compromise could have been made and say 11 O’clock but it did go beyond 10; the officers allowed it so I think it balanced out. However, I think that we must debate these kind of things. If it affects tourism or tourism is affected, we have to find other means as suggested earlier that it could be Carnival on the highway (bypass road) so maybe they could think about that now.”