Two symbolic live fire torches, were lit by the Minister of Culture, and Shannon Henriquez, the president of the Carnival Foundation at the opening of the Torch Parade and the island’s much-loved Carnival season.
The parade on Saturday night attracted 15.000 revelers, in twelve different groups, following a great number of popular island bands, along a 4 to 5-hour route, in the heart of Oranjestad.
This year’s edition, part of Carnival 65, was bigger than ever and at Awg 100 registration fee per person, and perhaps another Awg 100 spent on makeup and costume bling, the economic impact of the parade is enormous, and then add the spectators and their assorted bar purchases!!
This is how it went:
Los Laga Bai – LLG opened the parade with its band of 25 years, Robert JeanD’or & Su Solo Banda Show, on a brand-new trailer, with 700 Prominent Bandits in tow. The group, sporting purple and black tee-shirts with running lights in their fedoras always has a fabulous time. They were among the first ones to sell out mid-December.
TOB Carnival Group – Dedicated 1,200 followers of N’Fuzion, the band whose leader Ofo Escudero had his broken leg set in a blue cast, nevertheless, the show went on with group members bedazzled in gold and black, each wearing a golden crown, waving golden scepters. N’Fusion Royalty was truly impressive in numbers.
Royal Carnival Group Aruba – Trailing the NBO band, with just 150 die-hards, this group also enjoyed the entertainment of Royal Brass one of the two brass bands on parade.
Champagne Carnival Group – This was the group’s tenth year in the Torch Parade and their popularity was indisputable with 1,400 members inspired by Brazilian artist Romeo Britto, combining elements of pop and graffiti on their vibrantly colored tee-shirts. Accompanied by Tsunami, their house band, the Champaign Facebook page included a DIY pictorial with 222+ creative ways of cutting, weaving and upgrading tee shirts.
Infinity Carnival Group – This was the group’s third year in Carnival with 600 members trailing the D’Licious Band.
Majestic Carnival Group – The Finishers by Majestic followed BMW, that promoted a special rate for students and was rewarded by a young and enthusiastic crowd, also entertained by the Massive Brass band.
Dushi Carnival Group – With 400 Dushi Madness group members, they have been participating for the past ten years. Dushi Band with crazily colored neon tee-shirts always sells out among the first groups.
Empire Carnival Group – Backed up by Buleria, the island’s number #1 musical ensemble, the On-Fire group continued to sell ticket to the last-minute heading out on parade with 1,500 flamboyant members, who wished to go on at 2am, when the parade came to a stop, they argued with the Police, they wanted a little more! This year, they also added Musical Times, a giant band from the 80s and enjoyed a mega following of older and younger Carnival fans.
Sapphire, Socakingdom Carnival – A newcomer to the parade with glowing blue caps, they enjoyed the soca music of STEAM, Gleaming like Sapphires.
OPC Group Aruba – Under the leadership of a Father & Son musical combo, Mighty Talent Sr. & Jr., the group came up with a strong musical message: No ‘D’scriminate.
Pink 4 Life Carnival Group – LG-P4L, under the colorful leadership of Internet Marketer, Songwriter, Chef, Pastry Chef, Designer, Interior Decorator, Tailor & Band Leader Antonio Gario, this was the largest group on parade also the last one, thanks to Le Groove, its ever-popular soca band. The trailer handed out Family Planning, Ami Ta Dicidi, “I Decide” condoms, as an effort to crack down on Carnival babies, born just 9 months after the Hot Carnival Season. Because they were the last group and because the Last Lap tradition was scrapped, LG-PINK4LIFE found itself with a monster trail of people at the end of the night. Gario issued a protest, in his view, those who pay, play, and the Carnival Foundation should spring for the Last Lap band, to accommodate the free-loaders!
We all had a fantastic time, including those watching at home, on TV, with TeleAruba commentary by father & son duo, Ivo Yanez and his adorable son Zayon.