Some participants in this year’s May Day parade have described it as one of the worse in its history. But organizers say they are pleased, though admitting that the recession may have had an impact on the numbers.
One first-timer, who would only give her name as Shonette, told Barbados TODAY that she would not be taking part in the annual celebrations in the future based on her experience.
“First time impression counts. I want people to be able to express themselves. Not to be loose and wild but it is a day where you don’t work, just free up,” she said.
“As a first-timer hearing from work mates how hype the May Day celebration normally is, it is poor in terms of attendance. It wasn’t what I expected. I don’t know what went wrong along the way,” she said.
From as early as 8 a.m. workers started to gather at the Garrison Savannah as they prepared for the event that culminated at Browne’s Beach.
It was about 9:15 a.m that the hundreds of workers, dressed in their bright green, blue, orange and white T-shirts, started to assemble in various groups and started the journey.
Scores of people joined the parade as it made its way along the route.
Some bystanders expressed disappointment at the turnout with one woman saying that it was better she had stayed home instead.
One man, who wanted to be identified only as Ryan, said he has been taking part in the parade for the past decade and he believed this year was one of the worst.
“I believe the event was poorly marketed and there were a lot of restrictions on people being able to express themselves of the real freedom and having a good time and being a real Bajan,” he said.
“I feel real disappointed because of the attendance; the interest shown by the public and also it is low-keyed . . . the rules that they have put in place about no dancing, dancing is a Caribbean thing and a Barbadian thing so that is what is expected,” he said, adding that he did not believe the cricket had any effect on the parade.
Cynthia Boyce told Barbados TODAY she was pleased with the behaviour of those taking part, but said she agreed it had less participation than usual. She also expressed satisfaction with the garments not being cut up.
“The behaviour is good but it is too straight up like they are in the army. But I guess people are carrying out the rules. I think that it could be more. It is really poor,” said Boyce, who decided not to take part this year.
“Last year it was good . . . rules are rules and you have to obey them but it is labour and I believe that when you finish work it is a day to free-up. Yes, it is not Kadooment . . . but I think it could have been a little more,” insisted Boyce.
The Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Management led the parade, which also saw the participation of a mixture of private and public sector entities including the Hilton Resort, the Barbados Light & Power Company, the Barbados Port Inc. and Oran Limited.
Deputy General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) Orlando Gabby Scott said that all the groups who participated last year also took part this year. He did not have a final count of the number of participants.
“We have to understand that obviously there is nobody who has not been struck by the recession. Clearly we don’t expect to have the same panache and numbers you had when things were bountiful. You have to be naïve to expect that. But we are pleased with participation we have from the employers and the government ministries,” said Scott.
“We are very pleased. You don’t expect things to be like it was in the 1970s or 1980s. And the behaviour is good. This is what we want. We don’t want to see bacchanal or carnival. This is a parade that we are celebrating 75th anniversary of the labour department and the founding of the industrial relations system in Barbados,” he said.
Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer said she was also pleased that “all the units that have normally participated have participated”, especially those from the Ministry of Labour.
“We have a satisfactory turnout. I know we have had in some years, larger numbers, but certainly this is a significant showing. This is nothing to scoff at. I think it is very well attended and it shows that May Day and the labour movement are still very important to us. And not just our labour movement but also the Social Partnership,” said Dr Byer, adding that she was satisfied with the behaviour as “it is not Kadooment”. (MM)