A Breath of Fresh Air for Atlanta Carnival in 2014
By Marissa Williams
‘Go beyond your wildest imagination to offer something new, fresh and dynamic.’ That was the challenge issued by key-note speaker, Austin Thompson, at the Atlanta Carnival Bandleaders Council (ACBC) launch event. It was held on Friday September 20th, 2013 at the Hampton Inn Suites in downtown Atlanta. The hour long event served to introduce the organization’s leaders and their vision to members of the Caribbean Atlanta community. It was succinct but impactful, had representatives from many different islands, ample food and entertainment and costumes to be enjoyed by all.
This newly formed organization (ACBC) has taken on the challenge of offering the Atlanta Caribbean community a Carnival celebration that truly illustrates the uniqueness and creativity that embodies the Caribbean culture and its diverse people. It’s a challenge that was reiterated in the words of the keynote speaker, who first praised the support of the many attendees and labeled them, ‘people serious about moving Carnival forward’. He noted that ACBC has undertaken a serious task to be the ‘ambassadors for the Caribbean community, with the responsibility of representing the 250,000 + Caribbean nationals living in Georgia.’ He noted that their existence ‘transcends managing the affairs of their bands and the organization. When the city and county embrace you, they embrace all the Caribbean nationals living in Georgia. Your interaction with these entities and the impression you leave with them will determine how they work with all of us in the future.’
These points were duly noted by the standing room only attendees, many of whom are stalwarts in the Caribbean Atlanta community including Ms Valrie Sanders of Caribbean American Heritage Month Organization, Ezra Samuel O’Neal Former president of the Atlanta Dominica Connection, Dennis Ishmael of the St. Lucia Association, Alan Simpson of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Georgia, Desmond Brown of the Montserrat Progressive Society of Atlanta and Donald Campbell of Island Jams Entertainment to name a few.
The Master of Ceremonies for the night were Oslyn Ingram of We Kinda Ting mas band and Ira Claxton of Impulse mas who launched the night with an expression of gratitude to the crowd for their support. Marcy Connell of Thunderbirds USA, the newly minted President, kicked things off with a few words. She highlighted the need for Carnival celebrations to keep growing and progressing every year and expressed the commitment of her team to lead these efforts in a positive and transparent way. The ACBC leadership team includes Rochelle McSween of Madd Colors (Vice President), Francine Bethuane of We Kinda Ting (Treasurer), Acori Ross of Inferno Mas (Secretary) and Kevin Joseph of Madd Flava (Public Relations Officer).