Monday, August 27, 2007

A Caribbean Celebration

This will be my last post for a week or two as tomorrow I'm taking my laptop down to Nottingham to the Toshiba Lap Doctor for some much needed repairs and some TLC. Hopefully I'm making the right decision and the bill won't be more than a new pc. We shall see.

And so it's only fitting that this last post ( without a bugle in sight) is a colourful one as it's about the 40th West Indian Carnival that took place today in the Chapeltown area of Leeds. I'm not sure how I've missed going to it before - especially as I used to live a few hundred yards from the parade route when I first came to the city in 1973. Maybe I slept through it as I worked shifts in those days. Given that my ears are still ringing from the thumping calypso music, I very much doubt that was the reason. I just don't know. It was time I put that right.

I'd debated where to stand and watch the parade and decided to pick a point near to my old flat, more for nostalgic reasons than photographic ones and as it turned out, it wasn't the best spot I could've chosen.

These sorts of parades can be notoriously difficult to photograph. As well as going along narrow tree lined avenues which can make a bright day seem dull, they are also audience participation parades and onlookers would simply dance themselves into the proceedings and go with the flow. This made for a very relaxed atmosphere but meant that it was difficult to take photos of the official participants as they'd often be joined in their dancing by members of the crowd.

I just snapped as best I could.

I had to wait about 45 minutes before the parade got going and the street traders were doing good business selling flags, balloons, paper trumpets and whistles. The last two items were being sold so that those of us watching the parade could make a noise and so feel part of the occasion.

The kids took this idea to it's limit and the constant piercing whistles were enough to send all the local dogs into therapy.

I almost joined them and was relieved when the parade approached as those sounds easily drowned the whistles. The crowds lined the pavements 3 deep and many strayed onto the street as I mentioned earlier so that the only way to tell spectator from participant was by their clothing.

It was great to watch so many families there from all backgrounds and the growing excitement in the kids eyes was plain to see.

The word went along the street like electricity - the parade was coming !!

With 2 police motorcycle outriders leading it along, the parade left the gates of Potternewton Park and started along Harehills Avenue towards me.

It was a case of hearing the music first, then seeing the huge colourful designs over the heads of the crowds and then it was upon us.

There were several parade themes this year because as well as being the 40th West Indian Carnival, it was also a celebration of Leed's bicentennial and finally the parade commemorated the abolition of slavery.

The character above was interviewed by a local TV station and it seems he's the one who started the Carnival all those years ago. Good for him.

I could see that the end of the parade was approaching as all the spectators had left the pavements and were walking and dancing there way along the street behind the last of the official vehicles.

My vantage point was almost at the start of the parade and it had a long way to go before winding it's way back to Potternewton Park and then the celebrations really would begin. There was a large funfair in the park already and once the parade and it's supporters mixed with the fairground visitors, the resulting party would go on well into the night.

If I took one photo that summed up the fun atmosphere generated by the parade, this would be it. What a face ! What a smile !!

The costumes may not have been on a par with New Orleans or Rio or even Notting Hill, but it was obvious just as much effort went into creating them.

Speaking of effort, a lot of people put many hundreds of hours of their time into the Carnival and it was a credit to them.

It was colourful. It was loud. And it was fun.

I hope my ears have stopped ringing by tomorrow or it's going to be a long drive to Nottingham.
I'll not push it - I'll leave my Bob Marley cd at home and stick with Radio 2.


Anonymous said...

Hey mon, groovy photos!

Daphne said...

Great photos - the one at the bottom's my favourite with that girl with the lovely smile.

Jennyta said...

Brilliant, colourful photos.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos......really gave me a sense of being there.

A very good site with a great mix of education and wit through your use of text and photos.

Most Recent Awards

Most Recent Awards