Government agencies anchor Mash parade
Elaborate plans fail to materialise
A sea of people gave Georgetown a fair semblance of the usual spirit and revelry of the annual Mashramani Costume and Float Parade and, to satisfy their curiosity and salvage the event from a lacklustre response from corporate Guyana, the Government made sure its agencies were out in numbers.
The only private initiative that enlivened the streets was the Hits and Jams entertainment group, which managed to convince the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company and BK International to sign on with them and put at least 400 revellers on the road. Without them, it would have been practically a government parade.
There was a band called “Secrets” supposedly made up of foreign supporters, but their numbers were not too many.
The flurry of mostly Government-sponsored costumes and floats made their way along the traditional route – Church Street and Irving Street and eventually into the National Park, benefiting from eager families who make ardent efforts every year to bring out the children for a day of picnic along the parade route and inside the National Park.
Thanks to some impressive creations from the government agencies that participated, the day was not all lost.
The most-liked band was that of the Ministry of Health, which came out with the theme: “The legends of wealth and health”. The band merged Guyana’s folk characters to portray the successes in public health. The little-known Performing Arts Association of Guyana put out some impressive displays and deserves commendation.
It is 39 years since the first Mashramani celebrations were held, but this year indicated that the celebrations are gradually losing appeal among the business community. This must have been the worst year for the organisers in terms of support from the business community.
Many of the large corporations which spend millions on costumes and floats did not join the Float Parade, but chose to sponsor some of the activities associated with the event.
Noticeably absent from the road was Ansa McAl, which traditionally has the Carib girls, and mobile phone giant Digicel.
The poor showing by the business community caused the Float and Costume Parade to see a downward spiral in terms of participation, and rose just slightly above last year, when the event was downplayed because the country was in mourning over two massacres representing the worst violence in the country’s history.
So thoughts of a revival of sorts this year had lifted hopes, but all the elaborate plans that were announced at the launching of the event last year to make the event different failed to materialise.
At this launching, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport had spurred excitement when he spoke of Mashramani entertainment tents, regional cultural nights, a traditional folk song contest, food festivals, book launchings and exhibitions, and dramatisation of folk rituals.
None of these events came off.
However, on the road yesterday, Dr Frank Anthony seemed to be having a good time as he tramped down the streets with the Golden Arrowhead proudly in hand. His band was perhaps the largest of all.
Mashramani 2009 was held under the theme: “One Dream, One Celebration, One Design in 2009.”