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It’s Carnival Time , July 4 – 27, 2009

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Of their own volition your hips and shoulders begin twitching to the lighthearted peppery tinkles of a raucous steel band. Unsure of when your feet began moving, you find yourself walking, allowing the almost hypnotic aroma of jerk spices intermingling with smoldering smokey charcoal to guide your direction. Along the way you pause here and there to view the wares of another of the myriad of engaging and well obliging vendors eager to make a quick sale. A jerk chicken dinner, a few pina colladas, a cute Bob Marley T-shirt, and a sunny painting you could were unable to pass by later, it dawns on you that you may have tripped past your budget. It is then you realize you’re still shimmying to pulsing calypso music and decide to shrug your cares away. You’re at a festival and nothing says summer like a great festival!
Tough economic times did not prevent Caribbean peoples across the diaspora from ushering in the summer with a slew of A-list celebrity headlining, abundantly sponsored, highly eventful festivals and carnivals in celebration of their cultures. From California to Florida, millions of people of varying nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, took to the streets along side jubilant West Indians, to experience the saucy, intriguing, cultural cornucopia that is synonymous with all things of Caribbean decent. 

No where was the fact that June was Caribbean History Month more apparent than South Florida. The festival and carnival celebrations officially began on Sunday May 31 at Vincent Torres Park in Lauderdale Lakes. Reggae artists Freddie McGregor, Tanto Metro and DeVonte took the stage and crooned the crowd into a Kingston state of mind. June 6 saw the always lively Goombay Festival in Coconut Grove. There was plenty of good food and fun times to be had at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg on June 13 and 14 when Reggae star Sean Paul took the stage at 8 pm and whipped the already excited mass of people into a frenzy with a highly charged, vigorous performance.  Byron Lee and the Dragonaires were on hand to dazzle the audience for the West Palm Beach Carnival at the South Florida Fairgrounds on June 18. From there it was off to Washington D.C. on the 26th and 27th for the Annual Caribbean Festival at Benneker Recreation Park directly across from Howard University. Hundreds of thousands gathered to see vibrantly costumed parade participants and enjoy the inumerable series of events and presentations.
There is need to fret if you have not had an opportunity to partake in any of the carnival/festival fun. The summer has just begun and there are slew of festivals on schedule for the month of July. Below is a list of events on tap for this month.

July 4-5, 2009 Nottingham Caribbean Carnival
Forest Recreation Ground
Nottingham, England
July 5, 2009 Houston Caribbean Festival
Tom Bass Park
Houston, Tx
July 10-12, 2009 Baltimore Caribbean Carnival
Druid Hill Park
Baltimore, MD
July 11-12, 2009 Maple Ridge Caribbean Festival
British Columbia, Canada
July 18, 2009 South Jersey Caribbean Carnival
Wiggins Waterfront Park
Camden, NJ
July 25-26, 2009 Caribbean Days Festival
Waterfront Park
North Vancouver, BC
July 26, 2009 Caribbean Seabreeze  Festival
Queen Mary Park
Long Beach, CA
July 27, 2009 Twin Cities Carifest
Mississippi River Parkway
Minneapolis, MN

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Written by Staff Writer