Carnival 62nd, spectacular final weekend

We liked our Carnival weekend so much that we took a decision to go into the parade next year. I have been in Carnival before, but for many years, despite gazillion opportunities to join friends on parade, I stubbornly stayed on the sidelines with a camera. But now that everyone has a camera, I leave mine at home, and try to take in as much as I can, in order to be able to write about it. It gets more difficult as the hours go on, as drinking and dancing get in the way of paying attention! As for next year, who knows perhaps by the time Carnival comes around we’ll forget our beer-induced so called decision, and we’ll find ourselves on the sidelines again.

Allow me to quote one of my friends: We are a much disorganized island but when it comes to Carnival all of a sudden we can move mountains. And it’s true, just 5 weeks into the New Year, this island Carnavalistas manage to put 2,000 decked-out individuals on the road, and it’s no small feat, it requires buckets of passion and a good measure of organizational skills.  Carnival 62 will also go down in history as the Nagico Carnival. The insurance group was generous enough to share its fleet of brand new vehicles with the parade organizations and the familiar logo of the green umbrella appeared in every Carnival picture we snapped.

TOB, Taste of Brazil, opened the parade both days, Saturday and Sunday, having earned both Carnival queen crowns with their resplendent candidates. Their band N’Fusion also earned the Road Jam title with their cheeky “Inside the Thing!” The individual sections within this group were phenomenally designed. Janine Huistra and Isabelle Welage you were gorgeous! From just watching Queen Buti Yoga gyrating on her float, I say, where can I sign up!

Pleasers and Teasers is a group with a rich history, and their costumes are always the most intricate and detailed. All teasers and pleasers are from San Nicholas, the cradle of Aruba’s Carnival, and they all started their “Carnival careers” with the Esso Club and later with the fondly remembered and handsomely sponsored Coastal Carnival Group, delivering spectacular presentations, year after year. This group is made up of true Carnival artisans and their band Le Groove, also from San Nicholas, is blessed by a particular sweet Soca sound. Band leader Antoni Gario is proud of his young band member musicians, and believes that if you haven’t visited San Nicolas you haven’t been to Aruba.

Los Laga Bai is a well oiled Carnival machine and they do it to perfection each year, with just floor members, no special sections. They even had their own very shapely female catering crew, serving drinks and snacks along the parade route. True to their credo, they are a nonprofit organization that “works as a family to put energy, fantasy, music and AMBIENTE in Aruba’s Carnival.” Their band, Robert & Su Solo Banda Show, is the island’s most consistent group of music makers with band leader Robert Jeand’or, a legend in his own time. This group’s costumes while following a theme and a color scheme, are all individually decorated and adorned, and allow members to express their own creativity in the final product. With the “All eyes are on us,” theme, their peacock feathers, shimmered iridescently in the sun, proved that there is strength in numbers.

Empire Carnival Group is one of the most recently created ones, operating under the slogan fun for all, all for fun. Their costumes representing Love, Peace and Passion, in Silver, Black and Red inspired a terrifically animated group. Empire enjoyed the music of Band of the Year, a group of talented, sexy musicians by the name of Buleria, and the company of NUTZBEATZ a talented DJ with a large, loyal following.

What OPC and Dushi Carnival Group have in common is the fact that they started with a band. OPC with singer, composer Claudius Phillips and his band OREO; and Dushi Carnival Group with Dushi Band, a well loved ensemble of music-makers. Last year, shortly before Carnival Dushi Band lost its leader and musical inspiration to illness, but the group rebounded, maintaining his legacy and his love for Carnival intact. One must appreciate their resilience and their spunk. We loved OPC’s costumes; they were on fire with spectacular flaming red and yellow, body, shoulder and head pieces.

One of our favorite groups delivered a sea of white feathers floating the breeze. The white peacocks of the Royal Carnival Group, were just drop-dead gorgeous.

The North Fantasy Carnival Group, made up of Noord residents, made a name for themselves this year, they started their own Lighting Parade in their neighborhood, which was very well received.

Champagne, always a powerful Carnival player, as one of the last groups in the parade lineup, started moving late and probably concluded its parade experience after dark. By the time they came around, my mind was already set on departure, beating the traffic, in search of some food and quiet sustenance.

Is it our imagination that the parade got on the road late, and was plagued by flow interruptions? But the weather was great and the hospitality of Romar Trading stellar!

Viva Carnival, Viva Aruba.