By Vania Andre
After much fanfare and excitement around Banboche Mas, one of Haiti’s first mas camp, taking part in the 51st West Indian American Day Parade, the masqueraders and float were not allowed to take part in the festivities after failing to pass inspection at a checkpoint on Buffalo Avenue and Eastern Parkway.
“We were very disappointed,” said Alexander Bernardin, founder of Banboche Mas, “especially when I think of all of the hard work everyone did in the last couple of days getting their costumes together.”
While at a checkpoint on Buffalo Avenue and Eastern Parkway, inspectors found the truck in violation of the highway patrol’s height restrictions for trucks and floats on the parkway. The Banboche Mas truck was initially a little over 14 inches off the ground. Trucks and floats are supposed to be only 13.6 inches off the ground. According to Bernardin, the driver was only able to lower the suspension to reach a height of 13.8 inches off the ground.
For Bernardin, the inspection failure came as a surprise. They were given two police officers ahead of time, who were responsible for making sure that the truck would pass inspection. Also, the float constructor had taken part in the parade several times before and was familiar with the West Indian American Day Carnival Association’s (WIADICA) regulations.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “There were higher trucks that were able to go through, but it was up to the highway patrol.” According to Cecille Ford, chairperson of the Mas Committee for WIADICA, the mas camp was given the rules on truck height and even had a member of the highway patrol attend their last meeting to explain restrictions and rules.
“We were looking forward to Banboche Mas being on the parkway this year,” Ford said in an interview with the Haitian Times. “This was going to be the first time [in a few years] we had a costumed Haitian band in the parade and their costumes were very exquisite and beautiful. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get an opportunity to see that. We were very disappointed.”
The mishap cost the band and masqueraders in total about $50,000 when taking into account costumes, which average about $600 per person, registration fees, travel expenses for those who came from out of town and other miscellaneous expenses, Bernardin said.
Despite this, he’s not letting this year’s setback stop him from planning for the future.
“It’s left a bad taste in my mouth,” he said, “but we’ll revamp, rebuild and put more emphasis on the details that could derail us in the future.”