As a child growing up in the Midwest, New Year’s was just a part of the Christmas break from school. We stayed home and celebrated with family. Though I remember having the silly party hats and noisemakers, I don’t think I made it all the way to midnight. And if I did, I went straight to bed after.
But in the Bahamas, things are different. They dance in the streets and have a big, LOUD party. And it can last all night long.
My mom took me to see my first Junkanoo when I was seven years old. I loved the hand-made costumes – made from cardboard covered with fringe-y tissue paper — and how festive it all was. The unique Bahamian sound of cowbells, whistles, and drums has become a favorite memory.
We went to other Junkanoos over the years. I remember one year my brother picked up a piece of one of the costumes, and being jealous because I hadn’t thought of doing that! And then there was the day we were all bored, maybe it was raining outside, but we decided to make our own Junkanoo costume out of newspaper. Since our baby brother A was the smallest, we made it for him and made him wear it. That was fun.
After leaving the Bahamas, Junkanoo was just a memory, though with the internet and Facebook it’s possible now to ‘attend’ virtually. But it’s not the same. So, when I started dating P, I wanted him to learn about my childhood.
We booked a trip to Freeport for New Year’s, and he got to taste Bahamian food, meet my family, and enjoy the beautiful beaches. Everything except Junkanoo. Yep, rain was forecast and they cancelled Junkanoo that year. It was very frustrating and disappointing.
Especially since it didn’t rain. At all. . .
We went back the next year and thankfully, Junkanoo went on as scheduled. And for the first time, I had seats! I’d only ever seen Junkanoo from street level before, and had always wanted to be able to watch from the seats.
It was awesome and wonderful and fun and exciting and I hope it won’t be as long till my next Junkanoo.