April 24, 2006 – It was in an atmosphere of celebration and sadness that Carnival Village, dubbed "Friday's Road March Kingdom," officially opened Monday night.
Jam Band leader Trevor Nicholas "Nick" "Daddy" Friday, who died in October at the age of 43 of complications from diabetes, was on everyone's lips as speakers and singers alike spoke and sang his praises from the stage where the opening ceremony was conducted.
A sense of loss as well as humor rippled through the crowd as former calypso monarch St. Clair DeSilva — better known as Whadablee – said he had long ago given up competing with Friday for the Carnival Road March. Friday is credited with winning the competition 20 times over the years.
Friday's daughters, Nicole, 21, and Nikkiah, 11, wiped tears from their eyes as DeSilva sang a song, "Respect Due," that he said he had written for Friday.
"Carnival in disarray, all because there's no Friday," the song began. The refrain, "Daddy Friday will be missed at Carnival 2006," echoed over the Village as the lights from the 30 food and drink booths lining the parimeter of the Fort Christian parking lot began to replace the setting sun.
Choking back a sob as she accepted a plaque honoring her father, Nicole Friday said, "I know my father deserves this honor tremendously. I only wish he could be here."
Andrea "China Doll" Gerard, who was the first runner up in this year's Junior Calypso competition, also took to the stage with a song she wrote for Friday.
"Friday the only one who give us Quelbe with a little Bambooshay," Gerard sang, dressed in Friday's hallmark camouflage faux fatigues.
Carnival Committee chairman Kenneth "Blakie" Blake, said it was Nicole Friday who picked out the name for Village. Blake said the committee had a slightly different name chosen, but when Nicole submitted her choice, "We took it."
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said, "Music in the territory will probably never be quite the same."
Sen. Lorraine Berry and others on the dais agreed.
When the ceremony ended, the rest of the Village fare, including old friends meeting up as they tread the path from booth to booth in search of drinks and the perfect pate, remained the same as in years passed.
Visitors from off-island, along with folks returning home – and those who never left – could be seen greeting each other with hugs and "happy Carnival."
The opening of Village traditionally marks the beginning of the height of Carnival activities, which run for a week and include Cultural Fair, formerly known as Food Fair, several nighttime tramps, J'ouvert, Children's Parade, and finally, Adult Parade on Saturday.
Jam Band, sans Friday, was appropriately the opening band Monday night.
The lights were bright and the crowd seemed festive and ready for Carnival to begin, but quietly resounding within the gaiety, the refrain, "Daddy Friday will be missed, at Carnival 2006," seemed to inaudibly hang above the crowd, leaving a note of mournfulness intertwined with the cheer.
For a complete list of Carnival festivities, click here.
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