'Jamaica isn't a country that just buss blanks all the time'
Soca junkies and first-timers eager to hit the road afer 3-year tabanca
Though scheduled to depart its Devon House, Kingston, base at 11 a.m. today, Xodus revellers continue to roll in and stop for breakfast at the long-awaited, COVID-delayed road march.
Georgia resident Amber Wynter is making her debut at Carnival in Jamaica and was among early Xodus revellers.
"I think with the pandemic and everything; I was super excited (to attend this carnival)," she told The Gleaner. "It's just something to have fun with and be excited about. My husband is Jamaican, so I feel like I'm kinda representing him as well."
A former student at The University of West Indies, Mona, Wynter is no stranger to hearing about the Xodus band and said it was a no-brainer to jump with them.
"This is the best band ever. The costumes, the parties, the vibe, everything."
Jamaican Amanda Rickman agreed, adding that her last jump at a local carnival was in 2016 as she went away for college. At the time, she jumped with Bacchanal, which was then the only band.
"I've just heard from my friends that Xodus was a really good experience, great vibes on the road, amazing amenities, so I thought it was the right vibe. Plus, most of my friends are also with Xodus, so it makes sense."
Justine Isaacs, a first-timer, is one such friend.
"I always wanted to, and I thought it'd be really fun before COVID (came), so I decided to still do it anyway," she said. "I'm looking forward to the excitement and the fun on the road, dancing, whining and seeing everybody."
Media personality Wesley 'Wes' Hylton, along with his soca junkie outfit FeteJA has been bringing high energy and infectious vibes all soca season and are making their debut together at Carnival in Jamaica today. The diehard soca crew, hosts of One More Fete, is split between Xodus and Bacchanal.
"We do it for the culture; we don't do it because we want to be wild," Hylton said. "We study the music, we love the music, and we want to show the Caribbean that Jamaica isn't a country that just buss blanks all the time. We feel like we can be a part of the culture, be a part of the Caribbean and love soca."
Purveyors providing the fuel for the day's festivities included Grace, who served up soup, sandwiches, tacos and salsa and Swiss, who offered pasta and Red Stripe.
Carnival in Jamaica was last held in 2019. It was first postponed in 2020 after Jamaica recorded its first case of COVID-19. It was then moved to October, only to be rescheduled to April 2021. In March 2021, as Jamaica experienced the third wave of the virus, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett announced that Carnival organisers in Jamaica would forgo the annual road march and related activities for April 2021 due to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After three years, the announcement was made in March that Carnival in Jamaica would take place in July. Two carnival bands hit the streets today – Bacchanal and Xodus – as Carnival in Jamaica makes its long-awaited return. Carnival band Xaymaca had decided not to participate in the July staging, saying it would organise its band for a subsequent staging in Jamaica. The parade for a third band – Downtown Carnival– which had initially planned to hit the road on July 10 has been postponed until 2023.
The National Works Agency will intermittently close the following roadways to facilitate the Bacchanal and Xodus road parades on Sunday, July 10, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
– Hope Road
– Lady Musgrave Road
– Trafalgar Road
– Waterloo Road
– Old Hope Road
– Knutsford Boulevard
Xodus Road Parade
11 a.m. - 1:35 p.m.
Xodus will start at Devon House, turn left onto Waterloo Road, then left onto Hope Road, right onto Lady Musgrave Road and right onto Trafalgar Road, ending at Devon House.
2:50 p.m. - 6 p.m.
After lunch, the parade will start at Devon House, turn left onto Waterloo Road, continue onto Trafalgar Road, right onto Lady Musgrave Road, continue onto Old Hope Road, right onto Oxford Road, right onto Knutsford Boulevard, then left onto Trafalgar Road, ending at Devon House.
Bacchanal Road Parade
11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Bacchanal will start at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, turn left onto Hope Road, right onto Lady Musgrave Road, right onto Trafalgar Road and right onto Hope Road, ending at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre. After lunch, they will go in the opposite direction, down Hope Road to Trafalgar Road into the heart of New Kingston and back to the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre.