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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Exuma Junkanoo

Junkanoo is a Bahamian street parade that traditionally occurs before dawn on Boxing Day, December 26th.  The tradition dates back to the 16th or 17th century when slaves were given one day off after  Xmas to celebrate with their families.  Usually the junkanoo begins before dawn but this year it was held after sunset, I think in an effort to lure larger tourist crowds.  It seemed to have worked as the ratio of tourists to locals was much higher than in years past and the streetside bars were doing a ripping business.  However, it didn't have the same magic as the pre-dawn junkanoo with the drums being warmed over makeshift fires before the parade and everyone lining the streets rubbing the sleep out of their eyes wondering why the hell they got up this early---until the fun starts that is.  The marchers often spend months working on their costumes and floats and in Nassau, where the largest junkanoo is held, competition is intense for various best-in-show categories.  The size of the smaller Exuma junkanoo waxes and wanes with the economy....happily larger this year than last.  Like many nations heavily dependent on tourism, the recent economic meltdown hit Exuma hard.