Most families, who are loyal returnees to the Carnival Calabar for the sixth year running, still hold with high esteem the fun, joy and merriment that characterised the high point of the 32 days festival (carnival fiesta).
Celebration Time, which is the entertainment banner of the 2014 edition, orchestrated the performance of the competitions of different bands as it brought hope and aspiration to the state to stand tall in the future of carnival not only in Nigeria, but also in Africa and beyond.
Created in 2004 by the Governor Donald Duke’s administration to be a model and to scale up tourists patronage to the state, blessed with unprecedented tourism potentialities and eight years after, the festival ditto Carnival Calabar status, packaging, colours and aesthetics outing has grown to an integrated level built on innovations.
Governor Liyel Imoke, who took the baton from the former eight years ago, has rebranded the carnival through commitment to become the biggest street party in Africa with different platforms, which has ignited festive passion among the people of Calabar, visitors and tourists that made the carnival city a holiday abode throughout December.
Carnival Calabar, in its 10th-year came with a bigger picture of what to expect in the year ahead as carnival bands and floats entertained families lined up along the carnival route.
The children carnival has continued to pump up the volume of the party groove with spectacular presentation to interpret the theme of the 2014 edition, Celebration Time.
The children edition which has entered its third year was deliberately introduced to build a formidable platform to not only sustain the transition of the carnival but also to instil the carnival spirit and culture in the children who are significantly spine of the carnival future.
For a better recording of the performance of each float of the five bands, the organisers made provision for three adjudication points on the 12 kilometre-route starting from the Millennium Park on MCC road to the UJ Esuien Stadium where the fourth adjudication point was located for the final display, which was expected to bring forth the winner.
At every adjudication point, the bands and carnival train tried by all standards to not only attract the spectacles of the visitors, tourists and Calabarians whose commitment to the yearly carnival through their presence as they thronged out in their numbers, but also to encourage the members of the bands.
This year, the bands intensified their commitment through different innovative outings and displays to the admiration of all.
Giving the adult carnival a futuristic outlook, brought about the children’s version and for this year, the children carnival as usual pep to the adult carnival started in earnest on the early hours of December 26, 2014 with all bands dressed in their best and led by their respective carnival kings and queens.
At the end of the display by the five bands, the head of the panel, Dr Arnold Udoka, announced results for the various competing categories of the carnival including the adult, children and cultural display with Odukpani Local Government Area ranking second runner up in the cultural parade followed by Bakassi Local Government Area while Calabar Municipal came tops.
In the junior king contest, Passion 4 ranked fifth followed by Bayside, Freedom and Masta Blasta respectively while Seagull claimed the crown.
In the junior queen category, Bayside claimed the rear followed by Passion 4, Masta Blasta and Seagull respectively while Freedom came tops. In the senior king section Bayside also hugged the rear then came in Freedom, Seagull and Passion 4 while the title was claimed by Masta Blasta.
In the queen section, Bayside came last followed by Passion 4, Freedom and Masta Blasta while Seagull was crowned the queen.
For the children carnival the best costume and carnival spirit crowns went to Seagull while the carnival band for the year in that section went to Masta Blasta with Seagull, Freedom, Passion 4 and Bayside bands following in that order.
The senior carnival section, the best costume crown went to Passion 4 while the carnival spirit and band of the year crown was claimed by Masta Blasta with Passion 4, Seagull, Freedom and Bayside following in that order.
Speaking at the opening, Governor Imoke said that in spite of the absence of publicity the city has been overwhelmed by the number of visitors it has received this year.
According to Imoke, “We decided we were not going to do any adverts this year for the carnival, but we were overwhelmed by the number of people who have made time out to celebrate this 10th edition with us.”
Such guests include the Israeli envoy to Nigeria, Ambassador Uriel Palti and his wife Ayelet as well as former Rwandan envoy to Nigeria, Ambassador Joseph Habineza.
For the Chairman, Calabar Carnival Commission, Mr Gabe Onah, who said the carnival goes on, described the street party as the meat of the month-long yuletide fiesta in the State.
“This is a strategy that was introduced to save lives, a vision that has been commuted to a commercial success and an effort to bring a mass of people to the city after which they will savour our products and culture.”
This he said has worked coming from the public sector, “and our future is to move it to the private sector so that sustainability will be achieved.
“This is the reason children’s carnival and cultural parades were introduced and have become the bedrock of the fete.”
On what government has spent in the last 10 years on the carnival, Onah said it’s difficult to pin point.
He, however emphasised that results were being achieved as there was employment for youths in the state as well as the fact that: “the industries behind the carnival are huge and boundless, from shoe making, to raffia to bead making, dancing makeup are all the opportunities thrown up from the carnival.”