Ready for the road

By Jamaica Observer

MICHAEL Ammar Jr — a director of veteran soca band Bacchanal Jamaica — is confident that Saturday’s staging of UWI Carnival Road March will be a success, despite being on the same day as Buju Banton’s Long Walk to Freedom concert at the National Stadium.

UWI’s road march is slated for the institution’s Ring Road at Mona campus in St Andrew. Start time is 12 noon.

“First of all, I had nothing to do with the choosing of the date. Ring Road is a day event and Buju’s concert will start in the evening, so I am confident it won’t affect the crowd. If they were both happening at the same time, then we would have reservations. The event is aimed towards the youth so they can make it to both,” he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

According to Ammar Jr, his 20-year-old carnival entity is joining forces with UWI to appeal to a more youthful crop of carnival goers.

“The face of Carnival is changing. More young people are enjoying Carnival now. We are trying to reach that demography of persons 18-30,” he said.

“My good friend, the late Fuzzy Franklin, used to always help out with UWI Carnival and UWI has always been very supportive of Bacchanal over the years. We felt it was time to make things official. So we have partnered with the George Alleyne Hall to provide costumes, and even a truck on the road,” he continued.

Carnival in Jamaica began in the 1940s with the opening of the University of the West Indies. Students from the Eastern Caribbean, especially those from Trinidad and Tobago, recreated the festival on campus. A tradition that continues on the campus to this day.

Adrean Gentles, cultural and entertainment affairs chairman on the UWI Guild, said the partnership with Bacchanal Jamaica was ideal.

“Bacchanal has revamped a lot of their offerings and programmes and they are bringing more appeal to the youth by creating a product more attractive to that demographic. The UWI Carnival brand is all about the youth so it was a no-brainer to partner with Bacchanal Jamaica this year, “he explained.

He said the campus is gearing up for the experience.

“The Guild, as well as the student population, always look forward to partnerships with major carnival brands in Jamaica and this year is no exception with Bacchanal,” said Gentles.

Ammar Jr said he is looking forward to bring a new and greater experience to patrons this Carnival season. Other events include Rum For Breakfast on March 30, Bacchanal Dancehall on April 12; Bacchanal Beach J’Ouvert on April 20; Bacchanal Premium on April 24; Bacchanal J’Ouvert on April 26; and Bacchanal Road March on April 28.