Children get Carnival. They know what it’s for. After all, they’ve been looking forward to it ever since the last one finished. They’ve been making costumes and practising their dance routines. So while the adults fret about this and that, the kids are concentrating on making the most of a day that promises to be the highlight of their year.
For the past few years Carnival Sunday has been increasingly dominated by huge adult paint-and-powder and T-shirt bands. The organisers regularly say they want to reverse that trend and return the day to children’s masquerade bands. But will they succeed, when Jouvert-style bands are such a huge commercial success?
We’ll have to see how it turns out on the day, but children have been at the heart of Notting Hill Carnival since the very start. It was the lack of play space in the then deprived districts of Notting Hill and North Kensington that prompted Rhaune Laslett and others to create a community festival back in 1966.
Today, when the community again faces huge challenges, it’s the children who should be allowed to have the stage to themselves for one day of the year. After all, they are the lifeblood of Carnival. They are the masqueraders and designers, the organisers and artists of the future. So let’s give them the space and the freedom they deserve. Carnival kids – the road is yours!