Mon | Sep 26, 2022

‘Everybody benefits’ – Miami Carnival’s CMO hails economic value of carnival

Published:Sunday | July 10, 2022 | 12:09 AMSade Gardner - Staff Reporter
From left: Yvette Harris, public relations officer for Miami Carnival; Junior Carnival host Gillian Smart, Chief Marketing Officer John Beckford and Board Chair Joan Hinkson-Justin.
From left: Yvette Harris, public relations officer for Miami Carnival; Junior Carnival host Gillian Smart, Chief Marketing Officer John Beckford and Board Chair Joan Hinkson-Justin.
Amayah Michele will be joining Bacchanal on the road in Xanadu.
Amayah Michele will be joining Bacchanal on the road in Xanadu.
 John Beckford, chief marketing officer of the Miami Broward Carnival Committee.
John Beckford, chief marketing officer of the Miami Broward Carnival Committee.
Photos by Stephanie Lyew 
Coralee Osborne is ready to take the road by ‘Storm’.
Photos by Stephanie Lyew Coralee Osborne is ready to take the road by ‘Storm’.
Schaunn-Anthony Thomas (left) and Kelicia Williams collect their Xodus costumes at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel ahead of Sunday’s road march.
Schaunn-Anthony Thomas (left) and Kelicia Williams collect their Xodus costumes at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel ahead of Sunday’s road march.
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Chief Marketing Officer at Miami Broward Carnival Committee John Beckford is encouraging those who never fancied carnival to look beyond the glitz and ‘palancing’ and consider its economic benefits.

The team is currently in the island to support and celebrate Carnival in Jamaica, the road march for which happens today.

“I say to folks that are anti-soca and anti-carnival to take your eyes off the beads and feathers and look at the economic impact and tourist footprint by the events,” Beckford told The Sunday Gleaner. “The tourists that arrive on the island to take part in Jamaica’s carnival, whether they are a spectator or a reveller, the planes are full, hotels are full, car rentals sell-off, the fêtes are packed… . Everybody does well, from the man on the corner selling jerk chicken, to the liquor companies, cup man, ice man, and so it trickles on down. The folks that do the stretch fabric, make-up people, mani-pedi folks, street cleaners that walk behind and clean up as the bands meander through the streets of Kingston … everybody benefits. I’m sure even the guy selling water at intersections sees that increase in sales, and so we really have to look at the broader picture.”

CULTURAL IMPORTANCE

The effect is the same for 38-year-old Miami Carnival, which is scheduled for October in South Florida. Their events include the kiddies Junior Carnival, Steelpan ‘Panorama’ Competition, J’ouvert Mas, and culminating mas band parade and concert.

“In the same way that folks come down to Jamaica and provide an economic impact, there’s also the reverse with the Jamaicans that come up to South Florida. The hotels are booked, and folks are gonna rent cars. A lot of people do have relatives, friends, high school and college mates that live in and around South Florida, and it’s always a great time to get together. It reminds me of Nadia Batson’s hit song, ‘So long I ain’t see you’ (So Long). Carnival is really a time to get together, have a good time and buck up with friends.”

Beyond the economic and social value, Beckford further pointed to the artistic and cultural importance across foundation carnival elements like Trinidad’s King and Queen competition and even Miami Carnival’s kick-starter event, Junior Carnival.

“You know how much work goes into one of those king or queen costumes? Some of them are as high as 15 to 20 feet, and 13 to 15 feet wide. They’re on wheels and really a spectacle to behold. For Junior Carnival, you see young boys and girls as young as seven in costume or playing in a steel pan orchestra. Music is life as Bob Marley and other musicians have said. Get past the debauchery and try to look at the artistic value, the economic value, the tourism impact and say, ‘Wow! Carnival is really more than people just chipping down the road, having a good time, eating, drinking, and whining with each other’… Carnival is good business, big business, and it provides jobs and puts that economic impact into Jamaica’s economy.”

The Miami Broward Carnival Committee, which includes chair Joan Justin and executive director Mario Zamora, prides itself as part of the fraternity that is dedicated to furthering the success of carnival while curating an authentic and representative experience for Caribbean nationals in the tri-county. Post Carnival in Jamaica, they will head to St Lucia and thereafter, Antigua.

“As I always like to say, when the tide rises, it raises all ships. What Miami Carnival has done is to take a leadership role in ensuring that we travel to various destinations each year in support of and in furtherance of the success that carnival brings, not just to revellers and people having a good time, but all of the other individuals that benefit economically from the staging of carnival as we all know it.”

sade.gardner@gleanerjm.com