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Day Of Fun, Revelry In Congaline, Float Parade

The Nation, 2 May 2000

CONGALINE's climax yesterday attracted a crowd that could have rivalled the best of Crop-Over.

In a revived Caribbean Congaline Carnival incorporating the traditional May Day labour celebrations and the revelry synonymous with Kadooment, Queen's Park was swarmed by tens of thousands of Barbadians and visitors when T-shirt bands and the floats of the Barbados Workers' Union (BWU) came together for a spectacle of fun, colour and revelry.

Minister of Culture Mia Mottley said the festival was such a success that officials anticipated no problems in attracting major sponsors next year.

It was, to some extent, a scenario of "wuk" and "work" as 12 T-shirt bands, some containing as many as 400 revellers, and 15 BWU floats, took to the streets from as early as 9:30 a.m., winin' and rolling along to the music of Barbadian and Caribbean soca hits.

On the new route from Top Rock, Christ Church, by way of the Garrison Savannah to Queen's Park in The City, there was much more than the usual fete and frolic.

This year, there was also a taste of history as various floats paraded Barbados' achievements over the years, including the progress made in the telecommunications and electronic industries via Cable & Wireless and the Barbados Light & Power, which were major sponsors.

And the weather put no damper on the parade, but instead highlighted the creativity in Betty West's winning, multi-coloured hand-painted umbrellas. These matched the T-shirts of her Rain Can't Stop Dis Mask Mass band and showed that she had come fully prepared for anything - including showers - and victory.

Lining the route were equally colourful onlookers, some of whom joined the bands and rain-danced down to Queen's Park where, at the end, flag-waving revellers were relieved by soothing mouthfuls of drinks and food as well as the sweet rhythms of local performers Red Plastic Bag and Square One.

The May Day Parade, coinciding with the signing of a Prices and Incomes Protocol between the private sector, labour unions and Government, drew calls from BWU general secretary, Senator LeRoy Trotman, and Minister of Industry Reginald Farley for unity and pride among Barbadians.

"In times of prosperity, society has a way of not working together as closely as it should. It is [therefore] to the credit of Barbados and . . . the BWU that notwithstanding the relatively easy times we have today . . . there is a need for us from time to time to remove our narrow self-interest and act on behalf of the wider community," said Farley.