Bahamas Carnival will only get bigger, said former Prime Minister Perry Christie who took to the road on Saturday and joined in with participants of the fifth annual Bahamas Carnival Road Fever.
Christie, who posed for pictures and mingled with participants, said he was impressed by the turnout, particularly of vendors.
“I drove the route just to look at the amount of people who are vendors out here, and there are a large, large amount of vendors,” he said during the parade.
“And what is inescapable, the conclusion that must be drawn, is that this is not going to stop.
“This is going to get larger, bigger, more impactful, and it is best that we find a way to regulate it in the best interest of those who are enjoying it by participating and those who enjoy it by watching.”
Christie added, “I continue to be impressed by this incredible potential that carnival in The Bahamas has.
“Not only will it attract thousands of Bahamians to participate, but it will continue to attract more and more people who will come from abroad and therefore impact the economy positively.”
Bahamas Carnival was launched in 2015 under the Christie administration.
At the time, Christie touted carnival as a new avenue for Bahamians to share the country’s culture and entertain visitors.
But many opined that that carnival would put too great a strain on the public purse with little economic return.
But shortly after that year’s event, Christie said he silenced his critics with the outpouring of support for the inaugural event.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, then leader of the opposition, said that government funds spent on carnival should have instead gone to Junkanoo.
At the time, the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) said that carnival’s promotion of “scantily clad women” would only encourage “promiscuity, fornication, rape, incest and other sins of the flesh”.
Following the 2017 election, the Minnis-led Free National movement (FNM) government vowed to not burden the public with the costs of carnival, and had the event privatized.
However, the BCC made it clear that it remained as concerned as ever over the event.
In the lead-up to Saturday’s road fever, BCC President Bishop Delton Fernander called the road march a display of sexuality, nudity and vulgarity, which has challenged the moral, ethical and cultural practices of The Bahamas, and has the potential to lead to sexual violence or rape.
But Christie disagreed.
“In fairness to them, I have seen even in Trinidad where a Christian community and other people have made public comments about nudity and the extent to which the behavior has become challengeable, so we knew that would happen,” he said.
“But by and large this is all about people enjoying themselves, about finding sources of employment.”
However, he raised concerns over the regulation of the event for safety purposes.
“The concern I have is as it gets larger and larger, it requires more and more organization, and that we must really appreciate that thousands of Bahamians come to look at it,” he said.
“Thousands participate in it, but those people who look at it don’t want to have it interrupted by being unregulated.
“Too many cars and trucks are allowed to come into the parade. It frustrates the participants and it frustrates those who are viewing.
“And I saw too much of that on this occasion, but I saw people happy. That’s an important thing, because the issue has been raised about people being harmed and sexual assaults, and not really for this kind of atmosphere out here.”