Andrew Coakley – Bahamas Information Services
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation, the Hon. Chester Cooper says it’s good to see the Bahamian cultural expression of Junkanoo being carried to the world.
“I made the comment in Nassau, that we need to see more of our tourists enjoying our art form and our culture,” added Minister Cooper. “It’s a part of who we are and I’m delighted to see it happening right here in Grand Bahama. I was very proud to know that we’re taking Junkanoo to the world. A lot of times, we like to keep it to ourselves.”
The Minister’s comment came during Grand Bahama New Year’s Junkanoo Parade, which was held on Monday, January 2, 2023 in downtown Freeport. It was the return of Junkanoo to Grand Bahama after a three-year absence, due to Hurricane Dorian and shutdowns because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Minister Cooper, along with Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Fred Mitchell were in Grand Bahama to join Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey; Opposition Leader, Michael Pintard; Senators and other Government officials at the New Year’s Junkanoo parade in Grand Bahama.
The event was sold out, as Grand Bahamians turned out in droves to welcome back the cultural expression in downtown Freeport. Among the crowd were hundreds of tourists who had come into town for the event.
“As I looked into the crowd, I noticed that there are many tourists here,” Minister Cooper pointed out. “I know that we had some 5,000 guests who came by boat today into Freeport and I see many of them out here tonight watching this parade. That goes a long way in boosting the economy of Grand Bahama. Also, I see that the vendors are making money. That warms my heart.”
The Tourism Minister said it was his first time attending Junkanoo in Grand Bahama, adding that he enjoyed the parade tremendously. He said he was impressed with the performances, the costumes and Junkanoo pieces.
“I’m really enjoying this. In fact, I think I’m enjoying the Grand Bahama parade more than I enjoyed the Bay street parade,” Cooper said jokingly. “However, the Grand Bahama parade is second only to the Exuma Junkanoo parade.
“So, on January 6th, I’m headed to Exuma to watch the parade there. I believe that it’s going to be very special. The smaller communities have more of an integration with tourists and to me that’s the way it should be. We have a lot to be proud of and I think that the Family Islands and Grand Bahama tend to show that more and cause that embrace to happen with our tourists and guests to our country.”
Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey said she was excited to see Junkanoo back on Pioneer’s Way in Freeport, after a three-year absence. “I’m excited to see all of the Junkanoo groups out here and most of all, I’m excited to see so many Grand Bahamians and visitors out here tonight,” she added.
“We had that three-year lull, so it’s a great day for Grand Bahama island to have Junkanoo back and in such a big way.”
The New Year’s Junkanoo Parade in Grand Bahama featured some ten groups, inclusive of “A” and “B” groups.