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Mind Your Manners: Crop Over Tips
By Stephne Goddard
There is something about summer, heat, and holidays that makes people want to dress up in colourful, skimpy and wonderful costumes, scream from the top of their voices all whilst dancing in the street behind the blaring sound of music trucks.
It’s Crop Over season! “Celebrating we heritage.”
They may try to organise it, glamorise it, televise it, even industrialise it, but Crop Over or Carnival is something that comes deep from the fun-loving soul of Barbadian and Caribbean people. It does not really depend on any authority or sponsor to happen. Crop Over on the stage and in the streets is living proof of this love. It is relatively low cost, spontaneous, and everybody is welcome to take part.
However, there are a few precautionary measures we should all take at this time. The first thing to keep in mind is that whenever a crowd gathers – whether in a big city, small island, or wherever – pickpockets may try to take advantage of the situation. This does not mean you have to be paranoid, but avoid wearing your diamond-studded watch, most expensive rings and chains, and do not keep a stack of $100 bills sticking out of your back pocket.
You will need to take some money for food and drinks – there will be plenty of vendors along the way and at Spring Garden on Kadooment Day, but use your good calculation sense and work out how much you would need for the day. Remember to be careful with being too close to those food trucks and vendors on wheels along the way, or you could be run over when they start moving.
Use your good sense. When the bands start parading, stay a little ahead of the bulk of the crowd, or you will get stuck in the human mass. Dancing right in front of floats or trucks is not a good idea either. This is where the speakers and amplifiers are located. Stay close to the band at the back only if you have earplugs or you will go deaf.
Seniors and children of all ages participate at Crop Over in some form or fashion, so this is the ideal time for the whole family to have a good time together! Some choose to go early while others may go out in the afternoon. The gathering usually starts around 4:00 p.m., making this the quintessential après-beach experience.
There are not many rules and regulations for Crop Over and more precisely Kadooment Day. The authorities at the National Cultural Foundation and the police have put their security regulations and rules in place and they have been in the print media, on television and on the radio for some time now. So there really is no excuse for anybody’s ‘ignorance of the law’. There are a few things you may want to bear in mind, though.
• Make sure you arrive in good time or at the time your band leader has set. By 7:00 a.m. there is already quite a crowd at the National Stadium.
• Don’t park in front of entrances and exits of either private homes or business places. Park in designated areas.
• Leave handbags and valuable items at home, and only take as much cash as you really need.
• It is best not to wear contact lenses, but wear your prescription glasses and sunglasses.
• Wear lots of sunblock.
• Wear sensible clothing, (including underwear) that you don’t have to be constantly pulling and fixing.
• Wear comfortable shoes – it is going to be a long day!
• Keep with your friends, but do not link arms to form a chain. Agree in advance to meet at a specific rendezvous point at certain times, in case you lose one another.
• For those not in costume but on official business, make sure your badge is prominently displayed.
• Remember that raucous or drunken behaviour are all frowned upon at the various events.
• The revellers’ masks, instruments and other costume paraphernalia restrict their mobility. So please make a point of not getting in their way. Let them go first especially when it is time for their well-earned bathroom and refreshment breaks.
• Good manners and general consideration for other people are especially important during any public event: Always make room for children, pregnant women, the elderly and the challenged.
• Do not throw fruit, bottles or other objects to the revellers or into the crowds.
• Drums, steelpans, tambourines and other musical accessories are valuable items and personal property, not souvenirs to take home.
• Those who smoke, be careful with where you hold your hand with the cigarette, too many people get burnt every Kadooment day.
• Be careful when sneezing, coughing, and spitting. Do this as quietly and discreetly as possible.
• Use the showers along the way discreetly. Use them for the purpose intended, and don’t put your mouth on the shower head.
• Trees, gardens, walls, corners, car wheels, bushes, even beach sand are some alternatives used by men (and women) that have to go number one. Urinating in public spaces, other than being a criminal offence (indecent exposure) is completely unacceptable behaviour. Use the bathroom facilities provided, and definitely don’t urinate in the street, against a wall, or anywhere else along the way.
• Throw all your garbage in the containers provided. Be respectful of other people’s front yards, lawns and driveways.
In short, try to be nice and be nice to everybody during the season. Have yourselves a wonderful time, and play safe.
(Stephne Goddard is a training consultant and one of the island’s finest authorities on etiquette.)