The Governor of Cross River State in southern Nigeria, Professor Ben Ayade has flagged off the first dry run of the 2016 Calabar Carnival.
The Carnival, popularly known as Africa’s biggest street party has been redesigned to enhance greater spectator and revellers participation.
The Governor who said the dry run would take off at the millennium park noted that the innovation allows the bands take off from different locations.
Governor Ayade said that the plan for the 2016 carnival was to enhance start off uniformity, revellers performance and better security.
“The 2016 Carnival Calabar is going to be the best. It is a completely different thing, a classical departure from the conventional. It is a complete transformation and it is going to be a wonder and it is all to make everyone have fun”, said Professor Ayade.
According to him, “the new innovation is my brain child. It is my design. At previous events, people lined up along the routes have had to wait for too long for the float to come through, so in order to solve that problem and being sensitive to security, I thought it was wise for all the bands to set out at the same time”.
He further remarked: “the whole city will erupt in that high spirit at the same time. That way, wherever spectators gather to watch the carnival, they will all have fantastic fun. That is why I came out and have gone round the twelve kilometre route to ensure that the bands are exactly where they should be and for smooth take off”.
The Chairman of the Carnival Commission, Mr. Gabe Onah explained that the dry run, which is a rehearsal for the bands, also serves as a test run of the innovation.
Onah stated that the dry run would excite spectators because international countries would also perform along the twelve kilometre carnival route.
He said “our expectation is to wow the people. We intend to use illusions, acrobatics and magic to achieve that. Anything to get the people excited, think less of their problems. About 20 countries such as Spain, China, Brazil, Ukraine and others would be on the streets of Calabar”.
Some first time spectators from Lebanon, Mr. Paul Shammii and Joseph Achi expressed pleasure over the security arrangements, the colour and enthusiasms of the revellers.
Since inception of the carnival eleven years ago, this is the first time the five traditional bands would be starting out from locations other than the millennium park in the heart of Calabar city.
The five competing bands are identified by colours such as green representing Passion 4, red for Seagull; Yellow is used by Freedom, while Masta Blasta and Bayside adorn orange and blue respectively.