Caribe! A Caribbean Family Festival

By Mikaya Kelly

Saturday, Nov 11, Caribe! A Caribbean Family Festival was held at the Railroad Square Art Park from noon until midnight. People from all different ethnic groups and nationalities came out to enjoy the festivities. The festival included a parade, kids face painting mask making; a Bahamian Junkanoo group, a Salsa and Azucar dance troupe, and African and Caribbean Dancers: Sway Jah Vu, the Common Taters, and the Turn Ups. Caribbean food vendors were out as well. The community was invited to dance in the parade, in or out of costume.

Mrs. Avis Simmonds, who is from the Sugar City, Saint. Kitts in the Caribbean, has worked with the organizer of the Caribbean festival, Mrs. Janet Decosmo, for many years says this is the first Caribbean festival held at Railroad Square. Simmonds wants people to know that many islands such as Tortuga and Barbuda were almost completely wiped out and not just Puerto Rico. “Don’t forget them because it’s not over for them, they are still suffering and they don’t have a lot of the things…what is worse about it [compared to the devastation of Texas], is that it is so hard to get things across the water to the island. That’s the rougher part for them, so their wait is longer for recovery,” said Simmonds.

Jahaana Tresham’Chappelle, a junior in the nursing program at FAMU & President of FAMU’s Caribbean Student Association, was born and raised in Maryland, Virginia, but was bought up under the Trinidadian culture where her family is originally from. Chappelle says that CSA is a home away from home for students who were born in the Caribbean or who have a Caribbean background. Her goal when helping with events such as the Caribbean Festival at Railroad Square, is to bring awareness to FAMU about the Caribbean student population on campus. “Not a lot of people know the Caribbean, they just know Jamaica but there is a lot of islands. You know the Bahamas has 700 alone. Most of us are black, but we’re still diverse. So it’s really just to diversify FAMU,” says Chappelle.

Patrons like Timothy Clark says he’s been to a few Caribbean Festivals around the country, and would recommend that people attend ones like the Festival at Railroad Square. “Especially if you are new to Tallahassee and if you’re old to Tallahassee, come on out. It’s a great scene, very laid back, and you meet great people and different types of people… its very cultural out here, so if you live in Tallahassee or if you don’t and you want to just come visit, come out and have fun and learn,” said Timothy.

The turnout for the event was excellent for the surrounding businesses and by the looks of it, the Caribbean Festival may be held in the same location for the next couple of years to come. All funds and donations from the event will be used for restoration releif for islands that have suffered from the terrible, hurricane Irma.

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