Not for the faint of heart
It is an exhilarating experience,which engages all the senses. A Caribbean carnival has the allure of the Academy Awards, and almost as much preparation.
If you think carnival is a spontaneous celebration of sprit, you haven't been to a mas camp or behind the scenes at a queen or calypso show. And you didn't talk to the designers about their band.
When troupes and floupes take to the streets it’s the culmination of extensive preparation that began almost within weeks of the previous year's J overt.
Dorothy Elskoe, whose troupe from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, has taken many awards, including first place in many carnival parades, admits the devil is in the details. Nevertheless Elskoe, who has been involved in carnival since 1957, wouldn't have it any other way.
Despite months of planning she says there are always many things to do in the final hours before show time.
Elskoe brought well-known Trinidad costume designer Albert Bailey to St Thomas years ago, which signaled the beginning of a more Brazilian look for costumes. And while Elskoe loved Bailey's designs and those of designer, Steve Dereck, also from Trinidad, she observes that many of the costumes are now looking a bit too much alike.
After more than a half century of carnival, Elskoe says her primary role these days is to give advice. She says it's time for the young people to take over.
Maura Curley is publisher of virginvoices.com. Photo by Linc Berry