Judging from our recent rainy weekends, if no one has yet made it official, now is the time to admit to yourself that the season has changed. We are all slow to come to grips with a number of our shortcomings; we may need to exercise more, to eat differently, and to complain less, but realizing these things and making the changes are two different things. Despite our desire to hold on to our glorious, dry, humid-free springtime, summer has awakened and you’d better find some shelter. However, before you lament the end of paradise, Coconut Grove will hold its 36th annual Goombay Festival on June 1-June 3, I suppose rain or shine.
The Goombay Festival pays respect to the first black Bahamians to arrive in South Florida. Originally craftsmen and laborers, they rooted themselves to an area near Douglas and Grand Avenue; perhaps you’ve seen the long, straight and narrow shotgun houses. 35 years ago, someone decided to propose passing along a bit of the culture, and here we are today giving some proper love to nearby islander history. Goombay celebrations are held throughout a number of places in the Caribbean; ours fills the Grove, makin’ lots of dancin,’ prancin’, and romancin’. It’s a slice of Mardi Gras, a piece of Mummers Parade, and a miniature Carnival, meaning sequined costumes, strutting marching bands, fancy floats, and curbside culinary opportunities. Oh yeah – if it’s not raining, there will be bicycles everywhere, too. There are always bikes in the Grove.
We all know, though it sometimes fails to register, that there is a different world near our shores, and it is not necessarily Atlantis. The beats of the islands, the simmering stews, the local crafts – all are so close but so far away. For a weekend in June, we can reacquaint ourselves. A colorful parade awaits all who partake. Percussion, whistles, bells, and beats will be rolling down the avenue Saturday and Sunday, warm vibes wafting through the community. Other events – a kickoff set, historical brunch, and gospel service are spelled out on the website. Like always, Junkanoo music – the above-mentioned instruments plus horns and scrapers – will be the festival’s constant chaperon, there whenever you need it. Over the years, appearances have been made by R&B acts like the Temptations, rappers, and NBA ballers, so if you are star-struck, you might want to make an appearance. Since it is June and the rainy season, just grab an umbrella and join in the festivities.
For more information, check http://www.goombayfestivalcoconutgrove.com/.