PHILIPSBURG:—The Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Silveria Jacobs together with the Department of Culture hosted an award ceremony on Friday May 13th in honor of the Pioneers of the Carnival Village. Minister Jacobs outlined the historical account of the Carnival Village in her speech.
The Genesis of St. Maarten Carnival Village
Forty six years (46) ago, the late Lt. Governor Reinier O. van Delden of the Windward Islands, attentive to the sentiments of the population of St. Maarten, recognized and saw the hunger in the people wanting to express themselves and display their culture to the world. Van Delden, wanting to build on that momentum, came up with a plan of action to capture the positive energy and harness it in a forward looking direction and thereby supported the spirit of self-confidence that was being displayed.
Part of the plan of action was to get someone on board who could carry out the vision. He commissioned Jocelyn Arndell who travelled to St. Thomas along with Alexis Arnell, Chief of Public Works and Johan Dijkhoffz, Chief of Finance, who were sent on a mission to source portable water and bring it back to the island to supply the hotels that were part of the fast developing tourism industry. Jocelyn’s mission was different than his two colleagues, the Lt. Governor commissioned him to see how Carnival was organized in St. Thomas and he got a firsthand and bird’s-eye view of how St. Thomas Carnival was organized in a setting comparable to that of a village with temporary makeshift booths erected.
A light sparked in Jocelyn’s head and he started to think on how something similar to what he witnessed in St. Thomas could work in St. Maarten and that was the genesis of our Carnival Village. Jocelyn brought the idea back to St. Maarten in April of 1970 and refined it to suit St. Maarten’s context and seven months later on November 11, 1970 the Carnival Village was born prematurely. The Carnival Village started out with 8 booth spaces at Fls.15.00 each. Additionally, the electrical company was approached to provide free electricity for the Festival Village. In those days, the entrance fee for international shows ranged from Fls.3.00 – Fls. 5.00. The stage was made from two flatbed trailers joined together with the Courthouse as the backdrop painted by Bill Art.
To give birth to a baby is a miracle, to be born prematurely is even more exciting but it is another thing to sustain and ensure the baby is nourished and developed adequately taking all of the sensitivities into account. When eight persons voluntarily stepped up to be godparent to the baby, it was no longer a secret that the child was a child of destiny. Religiously, year after year, the child was nurtured and the community watched the baby grow from a toddler to a teenager, to a full-fledged Carnival/Festival Village which we know and enjoy today.
The eight pioneering godparents of the Carnival Village who will be honored posthumously are:
1. Lionel Gumbs
2. Josephine Constant
3. Marie Brooks
4. Mary Browne
5. Mr. /Mrs. Louis Sinclair Blijden
6. Olinie Sherwood – Romney
7. Melanie Thewet
8. Mildred Carty
The late Lt. Governor Reinier O. van Delden was honored posthumously as well for having the vision of foreseeing a venue to embrace the culture of St. Maarten. Jocelyn Arndell was also honored for carrying out the mission successfully by bringing back to St. Maarten the concept of a Carnival Village that he saw on his mission to St. Thomas.
The Life Time awards that were presented are intimately linked to human development and to poverty alleviation: There is no sense in human development if it is not sustainable, if it harms the planet, if it does not include all. This is the focus of people –centered development strategies. Sustainability draws heavily from culture, our strongest social cement, promoting inclusion and allowing societies to draw energy from the past to build a more sustainable future. Culture is a source of resilience and a bridge for reconciliation in the wake of conflict. It is also a wellspring of creativity and innovation, an essential source of revenues and jobs. Sustainability means building the capacities of our people through science, research and the sharing of knowledge, enabling innovation, better anticipation of risks and preparation for the hazards of an uncertain world; It means respecting, strengthening robust and resilient people for a better brighter and sweeter St. Maarten.
Source: St. Martin News Network
Minister of Culture Honors Pioneers of The Carnival Village.