This weekend’s wicked weather was no match for carnival.
Thousands of revelers turned out to Sun Life Stadium Sunday to experience South Florida’s take on the age-old tradition.
Despite the drizzle, the annual parade of masquerade bands…. with its dancers in sequined costumes and feathered headdresses, steel bands and 18-wheelers blasting infectious soca music…..did not disappoint.
“I love the music, the people,” said Rose Paul, 19, of Fort Lauderdale, but originally from Haiti. She spent months preparing. She wore an intricate banana-yellow costume decorated with gold sequins and tropical flowers. Grapes and leaves flowed from her dark hair.
“Rain never stops carnival,” said Jazmine Reyner, a 21-year-old Miamian originally from Nicaragua.
Carnival originated hundreds of years ago in Italy as a pre-Lent festival. It now takes place around the world.
In the past, Miami-Dade and Broward held individual carnivals, sometimes on the same day. But for the past three years, organizers have opted for a joint celebration called Miami Broward One Carnival.
The South Florida festival is the last stop on the Caribbean carnival circuit, which starts in Trinidad and Tobago and swings through London, Toronto and New York.
The local carnival got off to a bass-pumping start Saturday with SocaFest, an all-night party devoted to the fast-paced Caribbean style of music.
But for many, the highlight of the weekend was Sunday’s parade.
Hundreds of dancers took part, many wearing the colors of their home countries. They followed two dozen floats through the streets of Miami Gardens before making a grand entrance into Sun Life Stadium, where parade judges and spectators waited.
Destiny Mintey, 6, was awed by the beautiful women with long, false eyelashes and glittering skin who sashayed before her.
“The best thing is the costumes,” the first-grader said. “They are really pretty.”
More than anything else, Sunday was a celebration of diverse cultures.
Among the countries represented: the Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States and the Virgin Islands.
There was even a group of 50 young adults from Denmark.
“We’re here on a field trip,” Christian Petri, 20, said. “We saw that this was happening and thought it would be a good way to experience Miami.”
True to the spirit of the day, the Danish students came in costume. They wore matching light brown guayabera shirts and white fedoras festooned with long feathers and sequins.
Said Petri: “There is definitely nothing like this in Denmark.”
Early Sunday, it seemed the weather would not cooperate.
A heavy downpour delayed the start of the parade. When the rain stopped, it was sizzling hot.
The revelers hardly noticed.
Nickole Moretta, 74, strolled down the street in a glittering bra top and a skirt made from colorful, mismatched fabrics.
A carnival veteran, Moretta nearly missed this year’s celebration.
“Less than a year ago, she had a torn aorta,” said her son, local radio personality Mohamed Moretta. “She had to have heart surgery.”
“I was dead for five minutes,” the mother interjected, her hips swaying to the music, her finger pointing to the long scar on her chest.
But Nickole Moretta recovered in time for this year’s event. “I never miss carnival,” she said.