Runaway Spoon

A Caribbean Festival For The Not-So-Faint-Of-Heart

January 1, 2014

If New Orleans’ Mardi Gras 40+ days before Easter doesn't fit your getaway schedule, consider a jaunt to the Caribbean carnival on the island of St. Kitts in late 2014.

Sometimes bawdy; always loud.  All exuberance.

The on-street shenanigans in broad daylight amongst some revelers would make Miley Cyrus envious.

For years, I heard about the antics of the famous Trinidad carnival and its exploits, so we cats got curious to stake out any comparison during the December holiday.

A guy with a live rooster hat (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) A guy with a live rooster hat

Unlike many festivals that reach their zenith in the very late night, this one began about 4 a.m., peaked under a warm morning sun, and wrapped up at 11 a.m.

The streets were jammed with painted-up or masked partygoers, floats blasting Caribbean music, and happy HAPPY spectators.

One guy wore a live rooster on his head.  Another a heavy bucket of something. Thick amplified drum beats throbbed against the rib cage. One float pulled up to readjust its speakers, which didn't blare loud enough to interfere with the beating heart.

Float/trucks moved slowly through streets of the small downtown of Basseterre, the national capital of St. Kitts and Nevis.  Behind and in front of each were throngs of merry-makers, often rhythmically swaying around or participating in some dance machinations.   Mostly, the floats were old open-bed trunks built up a level or two.  Some carried bands actually producing music. Others had two or three players strumming or drumming to recorded music from their amp-loaded trucks, or singers up high (perhaps in more ways than one)  

The local populace did most of the dancing as passengers from three mega-passenger cruise ships in port gawked from the sidelines.

It wasn't your daddy’s Rose Parade, darling. More like Duck Dynasty Caribbean style.

A floating band (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) A floating band

The high-spirited carnival, centerpiece of a celebration that runs from mid-December to early January, was well policed. Only once, when the crowd surged because of some unseen rumpus, did the cops rush in to quell whatever it was that was happening. The swarm swept us unharmed in the opposite direction so it still remains a mystery.

Along the routes, locals set up well-used barbecue drums, wafting the aroma of tasty chicken, warm garlic bread and grilled steak straight to the nostrils.

Bob Marley T-shirts were popular, along with Heineken beer, brewed under license in St. Kitts and a local favorite with sponsorship of many Caribbean events.

It was an exuberant introduction to island culture for cruise ship visitors or those staying for a few days at the far more sedate Marriott Resort just a few miles away, or the elegant Four Seasons Resort on the close-by island of Nevis.

While enjoying the quieter beach, we learned one lesson, fortunately not first-hand:  don’t wear expensive rings while wading in the ocean.  One young woman did, and the current swept it right off her finger.  She then spent hours sifting sand in hopes of finding her diamond, to no avail even when other sympathetic sunbathers flocked to help out.  

Like the carnival, it’s a treasure for future generations to find.

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DC Artists, Teachers, Patrons Honored

October 23, 2013

Winners of the 28th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards were honored by Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities in ceremonies at the Warner Theatre on Tuesday night.

Several individuals and organizations also were praised.  Jane Harman, president of the Harman Family Foundation, and Barbara Harman, executive director of the Harman Family Foundation, were recognized with the Visionary Leadership Award.

Howard University's Division of Fine Arts received the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Jim Abdo, president and CEO of Abdo Development, was presented with the Award for Special Recognition. 

Mayor Gray & Judith Terra at the ceremony (Photo by: DCAH) Mayor Gray & Judith Terra at the ceremony
The Mayor's Arts Award is the highest honor conferred by the District of Columbia in acknowledgement of artistic excellence and service among artists, arts organizations and arts patrons in the city.

"Washington, DC is an international arts and culture destination, and the Mayor's Arts Awards are a great way to spotlight those who contribute their talents to making the District a great place to live, work and visit," said Judith Terra, chair of the D.C Commission on the Arts and Humanities….”The arts are a $1.1 billion industry in the District, supporting almost 15,000 full-time equivalent jobs."


Outstanding Service to the Arts

  • Carla Perlo

Innovation in the Arts

  • Miriam's Kitchen
  • The Corcoran Gallery of Art

Outstanding Emerging Artist

  • Brian Wilbur Grundstrom

Excellence in Artistic Discipline

  • The Phillips Collection

Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education

  • Marta Reid Stewart
  • Critical Exposure

Mayor's Arts Awards for Teaching-Language Arts

  • Topher Kandick

Mayor's Arts Awards for Teaching-Performing Arts

  • Sarah Pace

Mayor's Arts Award for Teaching-Visual Arts

  • Paige Byrne

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Love Thermostat Red Hot With Gov. Christie, Foxy Greta & Italian Women

October 13, 2013

Women of Italian heritage, Fox’s Greta Van Susteren and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – not particularly in that order -- grabbed attention of the cameras at the Italian embassy for the Points of Light tribute awards Friday night as 250 guests celebrated the good works of volunteers.

Neil Bush presents Gov Christie with award. (Photo by: Points of Light) Neil Bush presents Gov Christie with award.
Elisabetta, Mrs. Bisogniero, the Ambassador, Pia (Photo by: Points of Light) Elisabetta, Mrs. Bisogniero, the Ambassador, Pia
Greta Van Susteren,
who is racking up top ratings with her television show at the new time of 7 pm, and Italian actress/model Elisabetta Canalis emceed the 2013 Points of Light Tribute Awards hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Neil M. Bush, and Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero andMrs. Laura Denise Bisogniero.

Singer/songwriter, Pia Toscano, best known for her impressive debut on American Idol, enthralled the audience with her performance.

Special guests included Points of Light supporters General George W. Casey, Jr., and broadcaster Paul Berry.

Points of Light, the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service, presented its annual tribute awards to Gov. Christie; corporate service leader Citi;, a nonprofit fighting hunger; and Amy Paterson, a cancer survivor who came up with a novel child care solution for parents in treatment in Portland, Oregon.

Pia Toscana with her guitarist (Photo by: Points of Light) Pia Toscana with her guitarist
Gov. Christiewas honored as a tireless advocate for New Jersey citizens dealing with the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy.  He is often praised for working across lines with government, businesses, nonprofits and faith groups to quickly respond to the disaster, including engaging tens of thousands of volunteers in the response and recovery efforts.

Points of Light Tribute Awards are presented annually to shine a national spotlight on the best of those who represent what it means to be a “point of light.”  George H.W. Bush inspired the founding of Points of Light during his presidency.

Francesco Vanni d'Archirafi of Citi, Gov. Christie; Gary Oppenheimer of; & Amy Paterson (Photo by: Points of Light) Francesco Vanni d'Archirafi of Citi, Gov. Christie; Gary Oppenheimer of; & Amy Paterson

An online auction – open until Oct. 31 – features a custom 2014 Fiat 500L. For more information about the live and online auctions, visit Points of Light.  Among the items are restaurants based in the Metropolitan DC area, including Georgetown.


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