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A reader of Prince of Petworth asks what’s going on with the 2012 Caribbean Day Carnival and parade. The organization owes the city more than $100,000 (a TBD report from last year noted that organizers paid $250,000 for services, but rolled over more than $115,000 worth of debt from previous years). The reader wants to know if they’ve been issued permits yet for this year’s event—the 20th annual!—which organizers have scheduled for June 3.
Here’s the short answer, direct from the Mayor Vince Gray’s spokesperson Pedro Ribeiro: No, they haven’t paid their debt, and no they haven’t been issued the necessary permits to hold the carnival and parade.
So, will organizers get their permits if they don’t pay their debt? While we’re hearing some conflicting information (some sources say eventually, others say no), in years past, they’ve been threatened with non-cooperation from the city and it’s always eventually been worked out to allow the parade to happen. Last year, organizers struck a deal to shorten the route by 1.5 miles.
“I don’t think they’re going to come up with the money,” Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham tells us. Graham has participated in every parade since 1998, he says (it kicks off in Ward 4 and ends up in Ward 1), and he says this back-and-forth happens every year. But, he says, debt is okay, as long as the carnival organizers are paying some of it off.
“I think it’s one of those truly spectacular days in our city,” Graham says. And to that end, he said he’s willing to speak to the mayor directly on the behalf of the parade.
We called the phone number listed on the carnival website, and got a voicemail advertising last year’s event. For what it’s worth, we think the Caribbean Day Carnival is one of the cooler cultural events that happens in this city every year*—even with the occasional outbreak of violence—and it would be a shame to end it.
*Full disclosure, we are also half-Jamaican
Photo by Matt Dunn