Bacchanal looks to 2021

Bacchanal looks to 2021

By Kediesha Perry
Observer writer

Monday, September 21, 2020

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AFTER 19 successful years of road marches, the coronavirus has caused a roadblock for Bacchanal Jamaica's milestone 20th anniversary.

Michael Ammar Jr, co-director of the band, is, however, promising a premium experience for 2021.

“We [carnival directors] want to say thank you to the large majority of our patrons who have understood our dilemma, particularly our bacchanal patrons. We will be putting out the best carnival next year. Nobody is more disappointed than the bacchanal directors. We will be putting out a calendar of events in a week or so, and we're looking into adding a few events. Perhaps a one small and one large event, just in case COVID is still here and we have to work around it,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

The other bands include Xaymaca International, Xodus Carnival, and Downtown Kingston Carnival.

On Friday, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett announced that carnival will be postponed until April 11 next year. The announcement came amidst the continuous increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

Up to yesterday morning there were 4,988 confirmed cases with 67 fatalities.

Bartlett noted that the Government is aware of the domino effect the postponement will have on the economy, however, it was the best decision.

“We are mindful of the significant economic loss this will have on our country as this event generates billions annually, with many small and medium-size enterprises benefiting from the celebrations. However, the Government of Jamaica must continue to put strong measures in place to prevent unnecessary exposure of our people and visitors to the deadly disease,” he said.

The road parade, originally scheduled for Sunday, April 19, was postponed to Sunday, October 25.

At last year's road march, Bartlett told the Observer that Jamaica had experienced its “most successful carnival season” since its inception, with more than 50,000 patrons.

Meanwhile, Ammar Jr added that his team fully understands the Government's stance on the postponement.

“We all fully agree, especially with the number of cases not only in Jamaica, but in our international markets. It would be foolhardy for anybody to believe that carnival could still be held this year. The decision is one of those bittersweet things…” he said.

The co-director said “millions and millions” of dollars were spent on preparations for this year's staging.

“A lot of money would have already been spent that we cannot get back. We had to pay for licences, art productions, venues and so on,” he added.

Controversy has surfaced on social media about a “No refund” policy exercised by the three bands. Ammar Jr explained the fundamentals behind it.

“Across all bands there is a 'No refund' policy. The contract that you get when you buy a costume clearly states that there are no refunds because each costume is specifically manufactured for the buyer. So, when you make a deposit or you pay in full, that money is immediately used to tailor your costume. Our [Bacchanal Jamaica's] costumes are already here in storage, just waiting to be distributed. They haven't been touched or anything,” Ammar Jr said.

Costumes bought for this year will be valid come April next year.

Ammar Jr said his band may do something virtual for Heroes' Day weekend.

“We haven't put any thought into hosting a virtual road march, especially 'cause we already did in April after we heard about the first postponement. We have a lot of footage from road march[es] in previous years that we might put together. We'll see...,” said the co-director.


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