Bank of The Bahamas Sponsors Junkanoo Groups

Tuesday 30th, November 2010 / 09:57 Published by

MORE THAN A PARADE: As Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) donates $6,000 to the A-class Junkanoo groups, leaders share stories of sponsorship funds going far beyond the scope of the parade to affect communities. Pictured left to right: Dion Miller, Vice Chairman, Saxons; Shelley Sweeting, Treasurer, One Family; Toby Austin, Chairman, Saxons; Beverley Farquharson, Deputy Managing Director, BOB; Brian Adderley, Chairman, Valley Boys; William Brown, Music Makers Chairman; Laura Williams, Manager, Corporate Affairs, BOB; and Dencil Rolle, Chairman, the Prodigal Sons. Not pictured, but also collecting the $1,000 contribution: Roots. (Photo by Derek Smith, Jr., for DPA)

It was a Thanksgiving to remember and a far cry from the shacks packed with glued and glittered costumes for this year’s Boxing Day Junkanoo parade, but the good cheer and camaraderie were just as vibrant when leaders of all the major Junkanoo groups gathered in the board room of Bank of The Bahamas Thursday to learn that the ‘bank of solutions’ would sponsor each with a total donation of $6,000.

“We thank God for Bank of The Bahamas,” said Dion Miller, vice chairman of the Saxons. “We’re going to be on Bay Street full force this year and put on a spectacular show, thank you, thank you.” While the Saxons with some 3,000 members has secured sponsorship, most of the groups have not. A weakened economy has left many struggling. And it is not only the parade that feels the impact.

Leaders of the Music Makers, One Family, Prodigal Sons, Roots, Saxons and Valley Boys shared stories of the hard work, drama and fun that go into making Junkanoo one of the most anticipated events of the year.

“As a chairman, I’ve inherited new caps. I’m a guidance counselor, marriage counselor and detective,” said William Brown, chairman of The Music Makers. “I am baffled at what we are committed to. It’s far more than a parade. It’s a social phenomenon of helping families, neighborhoods and children.” Other leaders echoed his words, talking of helping out entire communities, finding money for medical needs, funerals, births. “We take care of them all from the guttermost to the uttermost,” said Dencil Rolle, chairman of the Prodigal Sons.

Preparation for next year’s parades begins soon after the last street sweeper finishes cleaning up. Months of costume designing, dancing auditions and band practice all come together for two days of cultural excitement. The events are local, but they reach the far corners of the globe. Prodigal Sons chairman Dencil Rolle recalls seeing an American wearing a Saxons t-shirt while travelling to New York this past summer. When Rolle told him he was from The Bahamas, the New Yorker announced proudly that he was a Saxon.

“We’re very pleased to lend our support to such an essential part of our culture,” said Beverley Farquharson, BOB Deputy Managing Director. “The Junkanoo groups perform a valuable service to our country and we trust that our contribution will go a long way toward assisting them in their preparation for another great season.”

The bank’s Junkanoo sponsorship is one of many commitments to support the community. Its BOB National Book Drive netted thousands of books distributed to libraries throughout The Bahamas. Other contributions range from assisting after school programs to providing equipment for law enforcement officers. Most recently, BOB underwrote the cost of producing a song entitled Love That Child. The single was written by Damien Davis, who grew up at the Children’s Emergency Hostel and Ranfurly Home for Children with proceeds from the song split between the two homes. The song includes voices from the National Children’s Choir and other performers and has already attracted the attention of international studio houses.

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