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Competition tight as T&T Social Club wins top band in Boston Caribbean Carnival

Yawu Miller | 8/27/2014, 10:59 a.m.
Tens of thousands turned out for the Boston Caribbean Carnival.
Boston Caribbean Carnival participants start the day with the J’Ouvert celebration at sunrise. During the celebration, at the corner of Morton Street and Blue Hill Avenue, participants are covered in paint. (Leo March photo) Leo March

It came as little surprise that the T & T Social Club garnered first place in this year’s Boston Caribbean Carnival. With more than 260 members spread out in their five brightly colored sections, they were among the largest and the most colorful of the mas bands competing Saturday.

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Garfield Charles dances with a massive bird costume as part of D'Horizon’s colorful carnival presentation. (Banner photo)

But not by a long shot. The upstart Socaholics dazzled judges and spectators with their brightly-colored botanical-themed sections featuring multicolored lilies, yellow sunflowers, butterflies, brilliant green poison ivy, yellow and blue and gold costumes paying tribute to the Andromeda Botanic Gardens in Barbados.

“Between T & T and Socaholics there were just two points,” noted Caribbean Carnival Committee President Shirley Shillingford. “It wasn’t that much of a difference.”

Mild, sunny weather and the blaring, infectious Trinidadian soca beats broadcasting sound trucks brought tens of thousands of spectators to the half-mile long parade route, which runs from Martin Luther King Boulevard to Franklin Park.

The mas bands competing in this year’s Carnival included established mainstays like D’Horizon and D’Midas International and upstarts like Grimace, a predominantly Haitian band, participating in Carnival for the first time. A contingent of Sierra Leonese also debuted in the parade, dancing behind a pickup truck.

“We’re stepping up the diversity of bands,” noted Carnival Committee member Marydith Tuitt.

In its 41st year, the Boston Caribbean Carnival is modeled after Trinidad’s pre-lenten celebration, which is held in February. While most of the participants hail from the former British colonies in the Caribbean, African Americans, Latinos, Cape Verdeans and whites also play mas with the carnival bands.

Carnival is the largest single cultural event in Boston’s black community and draws spectators and participants from New England, New York and the Caribbean.

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Lawanda Monique and Ashley Miranda danced with the D’Horizon mas band.

Carnival organizers and vendors setting up in Franklin Park were startled to hear gun shots at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. A 26-year-old woman was killed, apparently by a stray bullet shooting at the corner of Charlotte Street and Blue Hill Avenue, and another woman was grazed.

Despite reports that the shooting happened during Carnival in the news media, Shillingford notes that the shooting was more than a mile away from the J’Ouvert celebration, which happened at the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Morton Street at 6 a.m. The Caribbean Carnival parade began at 1 p.m. The parade route did not pass Charlotte Street.

“Anytime there is violence the day of Carnival or the day before or after, they try to connect it to Carnival,” Shillingford said. “They never want to write about any of the positive things that happen in our community.”

Leading the parade was Mayor Martin Walsh, who carried the flag of Montserrat, a Caribbean island settled by Irish descendants. Walsh, the first mayor to walk the entire length of the parade, was accompanied by District 7 Councilor Tito Jackson and former at-large Councilor Felix D. Arroyo.

“Boston has a large Caribbean community, and I’m glad I was able to join the festivities this year,” Walsh said.

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Grace McNeil portrays Island Pride, the Soca & Associates presentation for this year’s carnival.

Also marching in the parade were District 4 City Councilor Charles Yancey, Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins and state Rep. Gloria Fox.

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The D’Midas International mas band’s presentation Shaka Zulu featured African themed costumes, along with the red, black and white colors of the Trinidadian flag. (Leo March photo)

Here's the results from Saturday, with points scored by each mas band:

1st place: T&T Social Club; “Lights on Broadway” 334

2nd place: Soca & Associates; Island Pride Show me your culture” 332

3rd place: D’Horizon; “Birds of a Feather” 319

4th place: Socaholics; “Mystical Garden” 318

5th place: Dynasty Production Inc.; “Caribbean Fancy Indian” 314

6th place: D’Midas; portrayal “Zulu Nation” 295

7th place: Mirage Masqueraders; “Harlem Nights” 244

8th place: Peace Mas; “7 Wonders” 220

Results of the Kings and Queens Competition:

individual female, individual male, queen, king costume categories. The winners of the different categories are as follows:

1st place Female Individual: April Bradshaw; D’Midas; portrayal “Princess of the Nthweta Zulus” 309

1st place Male Individual: Clarence Nurse; Soca & Associates; portrayal “Changing Beast” 307

1st place Queen: Tamara Compass; T&T Social; portrayal “Reaching for the Stars” 344

1st place King: Garfield Charles; D’Horizon; portrayal “Kachechei: Dance of the Firebird” 337

For more carnival coverage, photos, visit Boston www.bostoncarnival.org.