Jason Sukdeo always knew that the Bermuda Heroes Weekend carnival would be a success; he just didn’t know it would happen this quickly. Entering its third year this weekend, the carnival has grown much faster than Mr Sukdeo thought it would.
And, in attracting artists and visitors from overseas, the carnival has proved that Mr Sukdeo, a respected DJ with a strong local following, was right when he said that the island was ready for a party of its own.
“Folks have been asking for it [carnival], and asking about it, for a long time,” he said. “A lot of folks who are in to carnivals and enjoy carnivals have said that Bermuda should have a carnival, so it wasn’t a surprise that it took off and that people are enjoying it.
“I really thought the people that were into carnival and were in to soca music and enjoy that type of entertainment, they would enjoy it for a few years and eventually everybody else would catch on.”
Still, even he has been taken aback by the speed of its popularity. “I knew it would take some time to grow, take some time to hit the mass public, but it has definitely hit faster than I thought, even internationally as well,” he said. “People are talking about it all the time and looking forward to coming to Bermuda each year. The crowds are growing every year; this is where I thought I was going to be in year five.”
As with any event the first two years came with teething problems and with the 35th America’s Cup also taking place this time around there have been a few adjustments to be made. The other issue has been with the raft-up; a popular event that caused some concern among visitors who could not swim – a problem that Mr Sukdeo, as a Bermudian, had not given much thought to.
“The raft up, there is going to be some changes made to that,” he said. “The first two years it went really well, but there were some concerns around safety…and a lot of the visitors, we found they just could not swim. That did come as a surprise to us over the first two years when we’re marketing it and reaching out to other markets. When we were talking to people about raft up the first question is ‘can I touch the bottom?’ Do I need to be able to swim?
“It’s something we didn’t think about as Bermudians because we just take it for granted that everybody can swim. But there are a lot of our visitors that can’t swim, so the move this year to Shelley Bay is going to alleviate a lot of that, so they can walk out and still enjoy the raft up.
“We’ll still get the same atmosphere with boats around Shelley Bay, and also the barge itself and the music, all that stuff will still be there, but they’ll be able to touch the bottom.”
While the raft-up is the highlight of the weekend for some, Mr Sukdeo is just as excited about the opening night concert tomorrow at the National Stadium, where a live band will accompany the artists on the main stage.
“The Friday night show at the National Stadium is definitely going to be a show to see this year,” he said. “We have brought in a live band called the Roy Cape All Stars, and the artists will all be performing to the live band as opposed to [pre-recorded] tracks. That is going to be a great show to see.”