Small Island Unity back in style with hurricane theme

ROTTERDAM–After one year of absence, the Windward Islands Carnival troupe Small Island Unity (SIU) will again be part of this year’s Rotterdam Summer Carnival on July 28 under the theme Hurricane Season.

SIU will have more participants than ever this year, including eight from St. Maarten, and the anticipated 200 to 250 revellers paying homage to the hurricanes, in seven sections. The biggest, most extravagant sections are named Hurricane Category 1 to 5. There will also be a fun mass section – the looters, as well as a children’s section. SIU will be number 22 in this year’s parade, the one before the last.

SIU Director Kyle “DJ SPY” Brown and his eight-member team have been very busy preparing, not only for this year’s massive Rotterdam Summer Carnival (“Zomercarnaval”), but also for the even bigger Notting Hill Carnival in England August 26-27.

The theme for the Rotterdam Summer Carnival 2018, Hurricane Season, was chosen for a reason. After last year’s multiple devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean, SIU wants to share the message of togetherness and beauty, of standing stronger united.

The costumes in the six sections, Hurricane Category 1 to 5, fun mass looters and the children, will show the up-to-750,000 spectators that the hurricane season is a part of the St. Maarten people. The colours of the costumes will be those of the St. Maarten flag: red, white, blue with green and yellow details and a bit of grey.

The sale of the costumes has started and people are still signing up, said Brown. New this year will be the possibility for those with a smaller purse – for example, the St. Maarten students – to rent a costume which they return after the parade. The fun mas looters section is expected to draw quite a few revellers, as it is less costly and involves a simpler T-shirt costume with a few accessories.

Brown is especially happy with the line-up of performers, of whom no less than eight will be from St. Maarten. Usually the performers on the SIU truck live in Europe. But this time, SIU decided to include performers from St. Maarten so they can show their talents to a much larger audience. “We figured we have the platform, so why not give them the opportunity. This also shows that we stand united,” said Brown.

This year the line-up will feature 2018 St. Maarten Carnival Road March winner King James. Also present will be the well-known King Rumer, King Kembe, Da Lion, the Odd Brothers and, from Barbados, last year’s soca monarch Terrah Dan. The artistes will also perform at the after-party in the evening after the parade on July 28. Deejays will be Threeks from Germany, DJ Iceberg from the United Kingdom, DJ Bean from St. Maarten, and DJ SPY.

SIU is talking with St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) to promote next year’s 50th anniversary of the St. Maarten Carnival. On the SIU truck this year will be a banner of the Rebuild SXM foundation. “This shows that we stand united for the same cause,” said Brown.

This will be SIU’s fifth time at the Rotterdam Carnival. The only two years that SIU did not take part were when the parade was cancelled in 2015 due to extremely bad weather and last year because of a disagreement with the Carnival’s organisation about the contract. For the SIU, the conditions in the contract were unfair and completely unacceptable. But that issue has been solved and the SIU is ready to go all out this year.

When the party in Rotterdam is over, SIU will move on to Notting Hill, England, late August where St. Maarten this year for the first time will have its own designated section, which means that the troupe and, by extension, the island will be more prominently displayed. Last year, SIU took part in the Notting Hill Carnival parade with some 80 persons and this year Brown hopes to double that number.

Source: The Daily Herald