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Let’s get behind Carnival!

Dear Editor,
As we move towards country status, the key aspect to a successful Country St. Maarten is the attitude of our people; a positive and constructive attitude towards everything that is St. Maarten and a determination to realize that collectively we stand a better chance for success than a selfish, individual mindset. We have to embrace the elevation of thought and discussion and put aside the denigration of each other.
After two years of unfortunate drama surrounding the carnival foundation, I hope we can come together this year in peace and a drama-free festivity. The current foundation, led by the young and vibrant Gina Illidge, has inherited a number of issues that she has to work through. Only the second female president the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) has had, Gina and her group of volunteers will need the cooperation and patience of the general public.
She has taken up the leadership of a group that nobody wanted anything to do with. From all indications, she is ready and willing to turn the page and take carnival in St. Maarten into the future. The communication with the public has improved, timely meetings with stakeholders are a must, new ideas must be embraced, proper information and fair execution of rules and regulations should be the call of the day. If she learns from past mistakes of others and involves all stakeholders as she has been doing so far, carnival will grow.
I do not believe that the young folks currently in charge have any mal-intent towards carnival. You have to have a love for culture and for carnival to subject yourself to what seems like a thankless job. Our people and our government must give them a chance to be successful. Their drive and spirit should not be broken for selfish unfounded reasons by some who want to get a hold of carnival for all the wrong reasons.
It is not an easy task to organize the longest carnival in the Caribbean. Two weeks, sometimes longer, of activities and 24-hour management by the members of the SCDF. These young folks have accepted the challenge of developing St. Maarten's largest cultural event. Nothing compares to carnival; no annual event is bigger. All of our events, however, depend on our people and the financial assistance from the business community.
It still baffles me that the SCDF literally has to beg the private sector for financial contributions. Carnival organizers throughout the Caribbean (see Curaçao, Aruba, Trinidad) don't even have to ask; companies know that when carnival is approaching, they have a civic responsibility to open their wallets. They know the return will be greater than the contribution. I hope that a drama-free fete will result in more businesses coming to the financial aid of the SCDF. It's our Carnival and as such all of us should do our part including the private sector.
So as Carnival 2010 approaches, let's all reserve ourselves to a drama-free fete. A celebration of sweet Mass, the best food, energetic hip-gyrating jam bands, colourful troupes, impressive international shows and highly supportive local shows. Let us get behind Gina and the SCDF and finally start to develop St. Maarten's carnival as the best in the north-eastern Caribbean.

A carnival lover

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