Dominica’s Carnival Opening Parade 2014: Plentiful Beauties, Scary Beasts, Bountiful Smiles!

It's Carnival Time in Dominica!  This scary mask formed part of the decor on the float carrying contestants for the Miss Teen Dominica 2014. pageant.

It’s Carnival Time in Dominica! This scary mask formed part of the decor on the float promoting the Miss Teen Dominica 2014 pageant.

Mademoiselle Francophonie 2013, who represented Lebanon looked very regal in her authentic costume.

Mademoiselle Francophonie 2013, who represented Lebanon looked very regal in her authentic costume.

It seemed as if the weather had finally turned for the brighter: brilliant sunshine, blue skies and a pleasant breeze blew in off of the Caribbean Sea as hundreds took to the streets of Roseau  on February 8th to watch the Carnival Opening Parade of Mas Domnik 2014.  I was  feeling a little ‘under the weather’, but I knew that if I made the effort to get out and watch the parade, it would be an ideal tonic for what ailed me.

With  the  innumerable spontaneous smiles  from lovely pageant participants and the contagious joy emanating from those who

In regal splendour, the exemplary Carnival Queen Leslassa Armour-Shillingford and the indominatable Calypso King Dennison 'Dice' Joseph lead the Opening Parade to cheers of adoring fans.

With royal splendour, the exemplary Carnival Queen  2013Leslassa Armour-Shillingford and the indomitable Calypso King 2013 Dennison ‘Dice’ Joseph lead the Opening Parade and waved to adoring fans.

‘played mas’ (dressed up in costume), I could not help but feel better!

I was very pleased for the participants and I know that the crowd was contented with all the sights and sounds in the Carnival Opening Parade 2014.  Beauties were typically followed by beasts – and smiles were definitely the order of the day.  You can see for yourself in the photos below!

A young boy  pushes his hand-made toy truck, which is called a Kabouwe in the parade.  This creative contribution is a Dominican tradition.

A boy pushes his hand-made toy truck, called a Kabouwe in Creole. This creative contribution is a Dominican tradition.

This pretty little Princess show contestant hasa lovely smile!

This pretty little Princess Show contestant has a lovely smile!

Creole Culture is represented by Madam Wob Dwiyet 2013 in her magnificent traditional dress.  It must have been very hot - but as a Queen, she did not display any discomfort!

Creole Culture is represented by Madam Wob Dwiyet 2013 in her magnificent traditional dress. It must have been very hot – but as a Queen, she did not display any discomfort!

A lovely Teen contestant from one of the high schools - Dominica Grammar School.

A lovely Teen contestant from one of the high schools – Dominica Grammar School.

The Miss Teen Dominica pageant will have tight competition with all the beautfiul young ladies from around the island - this one is from the Grand Bay area.

The Miss Teen Dominica pageant will have tight competition with all the beautiful young ladies from around the island – this one is from the Grand Bay area.

Competitors in the Junior Monarch Competition were out in full force, indicating that young people take this special art form seriously from a young age!

 Junior Calypso Monarch Competitors were out in full force, indicating that young people take this special art form seriously from a young age!

This Queen  contestant, Royette Laurent may have what it takes to follow the exceptional Leslassa, the reigning Miss Dominica. THis young lady, who represents Portsmouth has my vote!

Carnival Queen 2014 contestant, Royette Laurent may have what it takes to follow the exceptional Leslassa, the reigning Miss Dominica. This young lady, who represents Portsmouth has my vote!

Other young people entertained the crowd on the Bay Front with their melodious steel pan renditions.

Other young people entertained the crowd on the Bay Front with their melodious steel pan renditions.

School children from the east coast village of Castle Bruce proudly marched in the Carnival Opening Parade.

School children from the east coast village of Castle Bruce proudly marched in the Carnival Opening Parade.

Energetic young ladies captivated the crowd with their well rehearsed 'flag-waving' routines.

Energetic young ladies captivated the crowd with their well rehearsed ‘flag-waving’ routines.

The Kalinago Carnival band was well represented with  indigenous people of all ages participating in their group.

The Kalinago Carnival Band was well represented with indigenous people of all ages participating in their group.

Traditional lapo kabwit (goat-skin) drummers were a prominent presence in the parade route.

Traditional lapo kabwit (goat-skin) drummers were a prominent presence in the parade route.

The sensational Sensay revellers from teh village of St. Joseph held everyone's attention with their incredible costumes!

The sensational Sensay revellers from the village of St. Joseph held everyone’s attention with their incredible costumes!

Sensay costumes have traditional African origins.

Sensay costumes have traditional African origins.

Stilt-walkers ,called Bwa-Bwa in Creole looked very sinister in the late afternoon light.  They were also portraying 'darkies' with their whips and complete coverage in black body paint.

Stilt-walkers ,called Bwa-Bwa in Creole looked very sinister in the late afternoon light. They were also portraying ‘darkies’ with their whips and complete coverage in black body paint.

Fierce 'darkies' on the road cracked their whips and created fun-loving fear in those who stood too close to them.

Fierce ‘darkies’ on the road cracked their whips and created fun-loving fear in those who stood too close to them.

Perhaps the 'darkies' aren't as scary as one might think; this one cast a spell on pretty Kim that brought forth a beautiful smile!

Perhaps the ‘darkies’ aren’t as scary as one might think; this one cast a spell on pretty Kim that brought forth a beautiful smile!

Colour, Tradition and Spectacle: Dominica’s Carnival Monday ‘Ole Mas’ and Youth Parade 2013

Carnival Monday in Dominica starts very early.  I could hear the lapo kabwit (goat skin drum) band  passing through Newtown en route to Roseau in the cool pre-dawn hours as I lay snuggled up in my warm bed.  This year, I decided to pass on  J’ouvert ,Mas Domnik’s pre-daybreak street-jump-up.  Instead, I drove into the city for the 11 a.m. start of what is considered  the “traditional” parade festivities on the streets.  As well, as number of schools would be displaying their costumes and floats with special themes for this celebratory occasion.

Miss Dominica and Carnival Queen Leslassa Armour Shillingford plays 'mas' in a regal sensay costume.  She was part of the  band from Grand Bay.

Miss Dominica 2013,  Carnival Queen Leslassa Armour Shillingford ‘plays mas’ in a regal sensay costume. She was part of the Thunderbirds band from Grand Bay.

Despite some drizzle, the skies were mainly clear, although perhaps a little grey from time to time.  The  dull weather provided the perfect backdrop for the spectacular costumes, floats and revellers who took to the streets in festive style and good cheer.  Here are some photos that I believe speak volumes about the wonderful atmosphere at the Carnival Monday 2013 Parade in Roseau.

Calypso Monarch 2013 'King Dice" Dennison Joseph plays mas at his little bar on Great George Street.  I gave the six time champion a congratulatory hug.

Calypso Monarch 2013 ‘King Dice’ Dennison Joseph ‘plays mas’ at his carnival bar on Great George Street. I gave the six-time champion a congratulatory hug. Photo taken by Wendy Walsh.

Frances, one of my favourite Saturday market vendors 'plays mas' at her food stall by the Old Market.

Frances, one of my favourite Saturday market vendors ‘plays mas’ at her food stall by the Old Market.

Some J'ouvert  jumpers stayed on for the Ole Mas Parade.

Some sexily attired J’ouvert revellers stayed on for the Ole Mas Parade.

The hangers-on from the pre-dawn jump-up  included this man, who was dressed like the opposite sex.  This type of costume is common in J'ouvert festivities.

The hangers-on from the pre-dawn jump-up included this man, who was dressed like the opposite sex. This type of costume is common in J’ouvert festivities.

The Kalinago band was out in full force.

The Kalinago band was a prominent presence at the start of the parade..

Traditional"darkies', who adorn themselves in black paint from head to toe do look very scary.

Traditional”darkies’, who adorn themselves in black paint from head to toe do look very scary.

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DSCF5660Sensays of all kinds and  designs were out in full force.  This year marked the 50th anniversary of the deaths of 3 men whose sensay costumes caught fire on the parade route. The bands honoured their memory by participating in large numbers.

This little girl is a member of a visiting carnival band from Martinique.

This little girl is a member of a visiting carnival band from Martinique.

The brilliantly adorned band from Martinique added additional colour and interest on the parade route.

The brilliantly adorned band from Martinique added extra colour and interest on the parade route.

Schools were well represented in the Carnival Monday parade.  I was very impressed with the creativity in the design of their costumes and floats.  I enjoyed watching the students, teachers and parents ‘playing mas‘ together!  DSCF5629 DSCF5642 DSCF5604 DSCF5606 DSCF5633At about  1 p.m., the parade began to wind down.  It was time for lunch.  And then hundreds of people would come back on the streets by mid-afternoon as members of different ‘T-Shirt’ bands.  They would jump-up to the latest calypsos and other new carnival tunes with their favourite local group(set up on hi-fi trucks) until about 10 p.m.  I opted out of this form of fun this year.  But I’ll be back on the streets for the Carnival Tuesday Costume Parade tomorrow morning, with two newly arrived Canadian friends in tow!

This sentiment is very popular during Carnival season.  The phrase also formed part of a  popularcalypso this year.

This sentiment rings true for some people during Carnival season. The catchy phrase also formed part of a popular calypso this year.

The Triple Kay T-Shirt band is very popular with the young crowd.

The Triple Kay T-Shirt band is very popular with the young crowd.