Medelyn Foster has been enjoying Grand Kadooment from literally the same spot for over 20 years now and yesterday was no different.
As the masquerade bands made their way down Station Hill after leaving the National Stadium en route to Spring Garden, Foster took up her traditional vantage point directly opposite the District ‘A’ Police Station, a stone throw away from her home in Savannah Road.
It is a tradition that she started when her daughters were mere teenagers and this year there were grand children and great-grands along with them for the ‘soca ride’.
In fact, Foster told Barbados TODAY she had no intention of missing Grand Kadooment this year and that she had in fact delayed her Canadian travel plans by a week just so she could experience the las mas.
“I’m leaving this week but I waited for this. It is so exciting,” she told Barbados TODAY.
However, the retiree, who has been watching the bands from the same spot for years, saw a difference in the turnout for Grand Kadooment 2017.
Amid reports of several violent incidents — including one death in a shooting episode that also left 20 people nursing gunshot wounds — Foster, who in her 60s, said it was more than likely the increased gun violence that was stopping some people from coming out to see the bands.
With that said, the tradition of lining the streets on Kadooment morning to see revellers take over the road in all their colourful splendour was still alive and well, with Foster’s daughter Andrea Nicholls-Belgrave simply unable to conceal her love for Kadooment and Crop Over in general.
Her favourite tune this year was Wood by Scrilla but that didn’t stop her from enjoying everything else that was served up musically on the day. As she sat rocking from side to side with her grandson in her lap, Red Plastic Bag’s Boat Ride and Marzville’s Give It To Ya blared from the speakers.
British visitor Pauline Nurse was also taking in the Crop Over last lap, amid the sweltering heat.
“The bands were good,” she said as she stood with a bottle of water in hand, after the majority had made their way past Station Hill.
“Maybe next time around we will join a band as well, so we’re looking to see which band is better organized,” she added.
Nurse was just one of several visitors in for this year’s climax, with Formula 1 Champion Lewis Hamilton and home girl Rihanna topping the ‘A’ listers for Crop Over 2017.
And with the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) due to open here on August 17, Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Chairman Rudy Grant said he was hoping that the visitor momentum would carry through until the end of end of August.
“The momentum that we have coming out of Crop Over and here on Kadooment Day that is going to something that is very positive going into CARIFESTA,” the BHTA chairman said as he stood on the sidelines soaking up the festivities.
Meantime, a sea of people descended on Bank Hall, which continued to grow in size well into the afternoon despite the overwhelming heat and the slow pace at which the bands progressed along this leg of the jump up route.
While it was not unusual to have bigger crowds on the sidelines than in the actual bands, the enthusiasm level of those on parade seemed to be less than that of those looking on.
The first of the bands turned the corner at the Station Hill traffic lights at about 9:45 a.m. but it took more than 45 minutes for the second band to approach the stretch. However, this did not curtail the fun of those who came out to soak up the atmosphere as coolers jam-packed with assorted libations ensured that spirits were buoyed throughout the prolonged intervals.
“Aside from the bands taking long to come, I am missing the vibe. I don’t know if it is the heat but the first six bands that I saw, people were barely chipping to the music and the bands look really small and thinned out,” said returning national Natasha Ifill.
“Boss anybody tell you that you have to spend a whole heap of money to fun, tell them I say they lie. Look at we here, four of us buy four coolers with drinks and from the way them [revellers] look tired, we seem to be having more fun than them,” said Roderick Greenidge, who was giving Barbados TODAY his take on why band numbers seemed so sparse.
Perhaps the biggest highlight for spectators was the opportunity to see international singing sensation Rihanna, playing her customary role in promoting the sweetest summer festival. Shouts of ‘Ri Ri’ could be heard as the megastar made her way down to Spring Garden with the band Aura.
Adorned in a stunning bikini accessorized with green and pink feathers Rihanna reciprocated the shouts of adoration from the Bank Hall crowd with handshakes and blown kisses, at times even obliging excited fans with a quick ‘selfie’.