It may be that is home to the first Kanaval in the Americas. Certainly it is one of the oldest.
Children of Africa, stolen away from their homes, having won freedom through escape, began to create cultural forms blending the old familiar rituals with the new ones absorbed from the Slavers. Carnival in the Americas is one of the most beloved of these creolized rituals.
In 1998 I returned to Haiti in time for Kanaval in Port Au Prince. The celebration runs for three or four days, I was downtown for two days. The daylight hours are for families and children. Parading down the main street are thousands of folks of all ages, many dressed in appropriate costume.
Costumery was formerly a much more prominent aspect of the Carnival, culminating on Mardi Gros. The local newspapers complained that the grand costumes and marching clubs of the old days were nowhere to be seen. The grand old days of the Pearl of the Antilles do seem to have faded. There is a photo exibition of Queens and Kings of the Carnival which was available in a stand in back of the viewing stands. I don't know any of the sort of people who attend Grand Balls in Haiti so I cannot say if these events happen anymore. It was nice viewing the memories of Grand costumes of the past. I unfortunately did not take pictures of this hospitality area. This is an oversight that I will correct in the future.
Towards late afternoon the street parading becomes a little more lively. The local motorcycle clubs get to run up and down the promenade. The Shriners do this in the USA. I liked this better. Most of the bikes are Honda Cubs with a smattering of mid sized Japanese makes imported used from the USA. One Electra Glide was in the midst of hundreds of Cubs. In a part of the park away from the street young entrepreneurs were giving children rides on bicycles for a kob or so.
They rode a circular course around a dry fountain. Those kids were thrilled just to sit on the cross bar of a bicycle and go slowly around the circle. I wanted to photograph that event very badly but, unfortunately, taking my camera out among them would not have been appropriate.
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