After pausing festivities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Baltimore Washington One Carnival is returning this summer, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced during a press conference Wednesday.
Featuring a traditional Carnival parade with more than 17 masquerade bands, live entertainment, and Caribbean food vendors, the Baltimore Washington One Carnival is expected to draw more than 35,000 people.
Carnival is hosted by the Caribbean American Carnival Association of Baltimore as well as the DC Caribbean Carnival Committee.
To many, the Carnival is considered a Baltimore tradition. This will be the 41st year the Carnival graces the city’s streets.
“Some of my fondest summer memories are of sitting on my family’s porch in Park Heights and watching the parade go by,” Scott said.
This year, the mile and a half long parade will take place at 1 p.m. on July 9, beginning on 33rd Street in Waverly and ending in Clifton Park. Several masquerade bands, including Karib Mas, Coastal Breeze, and US Paddle Band, are expected to perform throughout the parade.
Once the parade reaches Clifton Park, spectators and participants alike can enjoy the Caribbean Festival. Running from noon to 10 p.m. on July 9 and noon to 9 p.m. on July 10, the festival will feature family-friendly entertainment and food vendors.
While the parade is free to watch, admission to the Caribbean Festival costs $20. Tickets can be purchased on the Baltimore Washington Caribbean One Eventbrite page.
Coming off the heels of the observance of Juneteenth and Caribbean Heritage Month in June, the Carnival is not just a celebration, but an homage to Caribbean heritage in Baltimore, according to Scott.
“We are home to an active and colorful Caribbean community who take pride in their roots and infuse that into the culture of Baltimore,” Scott said.
Reynold Small, the head of public relations and marketing for Baltimore Washington One Carnival, shared the history of the festivities, including how Carnival originated within communities of enslaved people in the Caribbean.
“It was a sort of rebellion in terms of being able to have a time when they could throw their shackles off and come out and celebrate in the streets, celebrate in the fields, celebrate as much as they could knowing they were still enslaved,” Small said.
Carnival has now found international popularity, with festivities taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Notting Hill, U.K.; and Miami, Florida. According to Small, more than half of American states have a Carnival celebration.
To bring a little bit of Carnival to City Hall, students from God’s Little Cherubs Elementary School paraded into the press conference in traditional Carnival attire, dancing and showcasing the joy of Carnival.
Later, stilt dancers performed to music provided by the Trinidad and Tobago Baltimore Steel Orchestra. Chyna Allen, the face of this year’s Carnival, performed alongside the stilt dancers. Caribbean cuisine was also provided to those in attendance.