CAP-HAITIEN — Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, may be a safer option than Port-au-Prince, but it too has been experiencing a decline in enthusiasm for Flag Day festivities in recent years.
Caught up in Haiti’s many crises and the city’s own disasters, leaders are not heavily focusing on festivities, residents said. Gone are the crowd-pleasing horseback racing, comedy shows, skits and marching band-led parades of thousands. Now, the highlight is a fanfare band competition at Parc Saint-Victor. Marching bands are also taking to the streets, albeit less energetically than before, to make May 18 still feel special.
Some hope that the energy will be higher as they raise the flag this year.
“In Cap-Haitien, nothing done must go unnoticed,” said resident Woodsy Michel, 26, an agro-economist. “Look at the past five years, no festivities stood out.”
Seven bands will take part in the contest organized by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Civic Action (MJSAC) at Parc Saint-Victor while eight other bands will perform in the streets. Before that there will be a morning mass at Cathedrale Notre-Dame du Cap-Haitien.
“It’s always a pleasure when this date comes because it’s a moment that releases a lot of stress from people in Cap-Haitien,” said Fritz Rhodson Jules, band director of Collège Pratique du Nord, a technical trades high school.