WASHINGTON - The 19th Annual DC Carnival almost didn't happen this year due to outstanding money owed to the police department to cover overtime costs for last year's event.
Local sources say the annual procession, featuring costumed participants on flatbed trucks and on foot, requires a large police presence, and last year the D.C. Police Department hit organizers with an overtime bill, of which $53,000 is still owed.
Last month, Carnival Executive Director Loughton Sargeant said that he was in negotiation with the Metropolitan Police Department and the Mayor's office regarding the bill. Sargeant said that last year's overtime costs were for protection for the mayoral candidates who participated in the event.
Police are allowing this year's parade to take place—and they're deferring payment of last year's bill—on the condition organizers shorten the route by 1.5 miles.
While Sargeant is concerned for the merchants losing sales due to the shorter route, he says he's confident that this year’s parade will be a success. “Most of the Caribbean islands are represented,” he writes. ”Once the parade kicks off you will see the colors and flags representing the various islands including the English-, Spanish-, and French-speaking islands.”
Expect flamboyantly feathered marchers and the frenetic, bouncy sounds of island music. Most of the companies will feature booming soundsystems or pan drummers.
There will be music and food in the afternoon after the parade at the Howard parking lot, which is being billed as “De Savannah,” as well as a number of evening concerts all weekend featuring numerous Caribbean stars. Trinidadian soca star Iwer George will be headlining the post-parade Saturday afternoon event.
Sargeant, who says the parade draws more than 300,000 people each year, hopes the event can someday return to its longer length.
In the meantime, he says his organization is working on an economic study to demonstrate the parade's benefits for business along the parade route.