On Saturday the 13th of July, families, friends and passionate individuals gathered at the Hudawi Cultural Centre, amped up and ready to embark on the momentous walk to Huddersfield’s Greenhead Park. With registration scheduled for 10:00am, Carnival Management Committee (CMC) members prepared for the arrival of participants with forms at the ready. During the registration process, a friendly and supportive atmosphere was quickly established as walkers joyfully interacted with fellow members of the Huddersfield community. Simultaneously, the CMC, dressed to impress in their high vis vests, recalled the strategy for the upcoming event. The plan went as follows: four groups of walkers, led by CMC members (known on the day as team leaders), consecutively set off for the walk, equipped with fundraising buckets and carnival glee. During the walk, groups would take short breaks at the organised meeting points, Market Place and Credit Union. This also left opportunity for toilet breaks and refreshments.
Despite the initial grey cloud and part time drizzle, true carnival spirit was reflected in the unifying look of the walkers in their Walk for Carnival and mas band t shirts. Like troops in procession, the surge of colour and vibrance created as walkers assembled in their groups, represented the true purpose of carnival, togetherness. However, competition started to creep up as the groups took pride in their teams, circulating the determination to raise the most money for carnival.
Group 1, an elite group at that, with an entry criterion of cuteness and innocence, consisted of children, carers and Pure Elegance mas band participants. This group was led by CMC members Kyle, Morris and Olivia. They led the walk along the nostalgic route of traditional Huddersfield carnival, a route far older than them, and commenced the journey that contributes to carnivals of the future. Talk about intergenerational fairness. With bucket in hand and smiles upon their faces, they successfully won over the hearts and generosity of passer-byes and local business owners. Waiting patiently at Market Place, CMC members Michelle and Dionne initially spotted the group, yet they quickly disappeared. Of course, they were working their magic dipping in and out of local stores and accumulating a healthy collection for carnival 2020. Their youthful energy was evident as they marched towards Market Place, unscathed by the first stage of their journey. As quickly as they came, they left, continuing on the route towards Greenhead Park.
Whilst waiting for the other groups to arrive at Market Place, CMC members recieved unavoidable attention as they stood representing the vibrant carnival 2020 promotional banner designed by Breaking Free design and provided by Pure Innovations. Many Saturday shoppers inevitably turned their heads in curiosity. “When is carnival?” many of them asked, in search for the annual joyous parade. This opportunity was perfect to inform and correct any misinformation about the previous, present and future carnivals. Sparked with interest and excitement, many people combatted their grief for 2019 carnival with optimism for 2020.
Alongside their curiosity, the public provided kind donations to the cause. This positive public interaction was an apt reminder of the significance of carnival to the people of Huddersfield.
Touching all bases, group 2, led by CMC members Martina, Natasha, and casual volunteer Ruth, took a detour to the Huddersfield Bus Station. With their zeal and energy, they won over the hearts of the elderly and by some miracle made public transport a fun experience. As the old saying goes “times flies when you’re having fun”. Time certainly did fly, 45 minutes to be exact, leaving the group overtaken by group 3. Nevertheless, this spontaneous trip was a definite bucket filler.
Greeted with sunshine and ahead of the game, group 3 led by Lorrianne and Marvin, shortly arrived at Market Place. Full of vibes and soca suave, the third group appeared to be chipping for carnival rather than walking. With their music playing and flags blowing in the wind, they may have been mistaken for carnival itself. The members of this group are significant to the carnival community, as some of them participate in the 473 mas band. They continuously participate and support whilst representing their island.
Calypso fading in the distance, group 3 headed up to the park, leading to the arrival of group 2, who finally took their well-deserved rest. After their departure, the fourth and final group, led by Shevonne and Deonne, joined the jamboree at Market Place. Fully celebrating Caribbean culture, group 4 walkers were equipped with Grenadian umbrellas, red, yellow and green jewels, and flag stamped clothing. Alongside this group were mas band leaders from Collision Mas and Reach Performing Arts, supporting one of the most important days in their calendar. This group also included North Huddersfield Trust Highschool attendees and regular carnival participants from Pure Elegance. With McDonalds just across the way, a quick burger was definitely on the agenda for the growing generation.
As their journey went on, walkers continued to turn heads, raise awareness and collect donations for carnival 2020. Soon after, they approached their second stop at the Credit Union Antilles Club, a traditional ‘last leg’ signifier for mas bands during the carnival parade. Here the walkers had access to toilet facilities and were treated to fresh, cool beverages, giving them the motivation to conquer the final stretch.
Ahead of the walkers, CMC members and volunteers attempted to tackle the challenge of the gazebo. After much effort and calculation, the designated area in the park was set and ready to welcome the walkers.
Eventually, all groups assembled in the park with tired faces and slowed paces, a sign of success. Once finding a bench or patch of grass, the walkers relaxed and socialised in the traditional Huddersfield carnival destination. With smiles all around, the Huddersfield carnival selfie frame, provided by Pure Innovations, was passed from hand to hand for photos to commemorate the moment. After the speeches, congratulations and thanks were delivered, the walkers got up to gather for a final time… to join the food queue. Here they were presented a selection of sandwiches provided by the local business Big Baps, water provided
by Andrew Lawrence, water and juice provided by ASDA, snacks and juice brought to them by Richard Howe, soft drinks courtesy of Carnival sponsors Mackinley’s Caribbean Store, cake baked with love by Dolly and Ata and were later served the nations favourite sweet treats courtesy of Greggs.
With music playing and conversation flowing, carnival 2020 was the topic of many conversations. The success of the walk seemed to inspire further action to revive carnival in 2020 and bring back the vibrant culture of the Caribbean to the streets of Huddersfield. With an overall turnout of 60 people and triumphant total of £302.90 raised via bucket donations, the walk demonstrated the passion and love people have for Huddersfield carnival, and this is only the beginning. One small step for carnival, one giant leap for the community.
The support of the community, the walkers and their sponsors resulted in a successful first step to reuniting carnival with Huddersfield. Needless to say, the success of the walk wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of the CMC, casual volunteers and student volunteers, who all offered their time and energy to bring the walk to life. Many thanks and appreciation are due to the following: Co-ordinator, Paige Phillip. Admin, Clare John. The Community Engagement team: Morris Adams, Marvin Cox, Natasha Dennis, Deonne Facey, Lorianne Joseph, Olivia Joseph and Shevonne Moses. The Finance and Sponsorship team: Martina Adams, Isabella Andrew, Sara Dearnly and Michelle Gay. The Logistic and Infrastructure team, Steven Knight. The Marketing and Media team: Wesley Bedeau, Dionne Bellafante James and Kyle Wisniewski. Media and Marketing student volunteers, Dylan Holmes and Reece Julien. And finally, casual volunteer, Ruth Moses.
By Tanazia Gabriel-Fleary