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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dates of International Carnivals

St. Maarten (Dutch) April 14 to May 5
Jamaica Carnival April 8 - 14
St. Thomas, USVI April 22 - 28
Tampa, FL, USA April 28 - 29
Cayman Islands (Barabano) May 6
Cayman Islands (Little Cayman) May 6
Oklahoma City, OK, USA May 18 - 20
Bermuda Day May 24
Dallas/Forth Worth, TX, USA May 25 - 27
Atlanta (Peach), GA, USA May 25 - 28
Oakland, CA, USA May 25 - 28
San Fransisco, CA, USA May 26 - 27
Orlando, FL, USA May 26 - 27
Berlin, Germany June 1-5
St. Petersburg, FL, USA June 9 - 10
Hartford CT, USA June 10
Calgary (Carifest), AB, Canada June 10 - 16
Philadelphia, PA, USA June 16
Port Charlotte, FL, USA June 16
Washington (D.C. Carnival), DC, USA June 16 - 24
Southern California Caribbean Carnival June 22 - 24
Chicago (Bachannal), IL, USA June 29 - July 1
Houston, TX, USA July 1 - 9
St. Johns, USVI July 4
Montreal, PQ, Canada July 7
Syracuse, NY, USA July 7
West Palm Beach, FL, USA July 7 - 8
St. Vincent & The Grenadines July 9 - 10
Virginia (Norfolk), USA July 14-15
York, ON, Canada July 16
St. Lucia July 16 - 18
SABA Dutch Caribbean July 18 - 20
Barbados (Cropover) July 9 - August 6
Toronto (Caribana), ON, Canada July 20 - August 6
Baltimore, MD, USA July 20 - 22
Connecticut July 20 - 22
Puerto Rico (Loiza) July 20 - 22
Charlotte NC july 21
Jersey City, NJ, USA July 22
Rotterdam, Holland July 22
Nevis July 23 - August 6
Netherland Antilles July 23
St. Eustatius July 23
Anguilla July 26 - August 5
Antigua & Barbuda July 28 - August 7
Virginia (Chesapeake), USA July 28 - 29
Vancouver, BC, Canada July 29
Tortola August 6 - 8
Detroit, MI, USA August 10 - 12
Edmonton (Cariwest), AB, Canada August 10 - 12
Hamilton, ON, Canada August 10 - 12
Virgin Gorda August 10 - 12
Ottawa, ON, USA August 10 - 19
Grenada August 13 - 14
Albany (Carama), NY, USA August 17 - 19
Talahassee, FL, USA August 17 - 19
Winnipeg (Caripeg), MB, Canada August 17 - 19
East Orange, NJ, USA August 18
Chicago (Carifete), IL, USA August 18
Boston, MA, USA August 19
Nottinghill, United Kingdom August 26 - 28
New York (Labour Day), NY, USA August 30 - September 3
Port St. Lucie, FL, USA September 2
Long Island Carnival, NY, USA September 8
Baltimore, MD, USA September 14 - 16
Westchester, MA, USA September 16
Costa Rica October 4 - 7
Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA October 4 - 8
Miami, FL, USA October 4 - 8
Jacksonville, FL, USA October 12 - 14
Los Angeles, CA, USA October 12 - 14
Sydney, Australia October 20
New Orleans, LA, USA October 20-21
Keywest, FL, USA October 26 - 28
Bridgwater, England, United Kingdom November 2
St. Kitts December 24 - January 1, 2008
Bahamas December 26 - January 1, 2008
St. Croix, USVI December 26 - January 1, 2008

Harts Review

Thanks to squeezle for the following review of Harts:

Presentation
Okay, I realize that Harts has settled on a formula of very abstract and vague themes (Coloursion, Voyage B.C., Utopia? Huh???), with costumes that don't really represent anything, for the most part. I doubt that will change anytime soon, so I have simply come to terms with it. Frankly, as long as the costumes look good and are comfortable and durable, I really don't care that much. This year, I was very pleased with the look of the costumes in general. There were only two costumes this year that I found downright unappealing, the insipid 'El Dorado' which was scrapped altogether and replaced by a much better looking section, and the weak, pastel coloured 'Nirvana' which barely made the cut. All of the other costumes were quite lovely on the website, and even more beautiful in person. As Saucy has mentioned on several occasions, their colours are very vivid and rich, and it really makes for a strong visual impact.

Registration
Being an overseas masquerader, I can only evaluate the on-line registration process. This continues to be a sore spot for me year after year. Harts really needs to light a fire under their web designers to make sure that the site is up and running properly when the band launches. Due to a two week lag this year between the launch and the costumes being made available on the web, my first choice costume 'Aztlan' was sold out before the site launched. In fact, I was told that my second choice 'Shangri-la' was also sold out, but thankfully, someone at the mas' camp was able to get me and my boyfriend in under the wire. I don't know if this was because I've been a loyal customer many years running, or if someone happened to change their mind. Either way, I'm glad they were able to accommodate our choice.

I should also point out that because I was aware of many technical problems with the website leading up to the launch, I chose to fax my registration information rather that use the on-line order form. This proved to be a smart move on my part because it turned out that there were still bugs in the system after the website launched and some of the early on-line registrations didn't go through properly and had to be re-done.

Collection
For those of you who may not know, Harts has a very 'low tech' mas' camp. Costume pick-up is all done on the front porch of the mas' camp, with no air-conditioned waiting rooms or free beverages. There is a tent set up in the front yard to provide protection against the elements, but little else in the way of amenities. The mas' camp was abuzz with activity when I arrived to pick up my costume the Friday before Carnival, and although the lines were long, they all moved fairly quickly. Nothing was missing and everything was intact when the staff did the mandatory 'box check'. There was a small problem with some of the bras being too tight across the back so they supplied us with matching extenders for the bra. I took one but didn't use it, I prefer to thread a shoelace through the loops and secure the bra that way. While it doesn't look as pretty (unless you can find fancy matching shoelaces) it gives me a more adjustable, comfortable fit. The goody bags - pink for the girls, blue for the boys - were standard issue, filled with items like snack bars, deodorant, body lotion, painkillers, coupons, blah, blah, blah. I also purchased our wristbands for the Wee-wee truck and the drinks cart with no problem. There were also a few tables set up with people selling everything from tights to jewelry to sunscreen. All the staff we encountered were pleasant, efficient and in good spirits and we were in and out in less than an hour. I think that's a record for Harts - good work this year on that front!

On the Road
Monday departure 11:00 am - The vibe was pretty good until we got to the Savannah. Normally on Carnival Monday, there is no delay to cross the stage since the band does not get into sections and we just move through very smoothly. Not this year! We were held up for over an hour waiting to cross the 'non-stage' and I was starting to get a little cranky. But once we located our drinks cart and became sufficiently lubricated, my mood lightened quite a bit. The rest of the day went fabulously well, smooth sailing and no delays.

Tuesday departure 6:30 am - I was feeling a little anxious at the start of the day. The fact that we had to wait an hour on Monday was making me really dread whatever we would encounter at the Savannah. We arrived at the Savannah at 7:15 only to be told that we would not be allowed to cross the judging point and the officials were saying that Trini Revellers was supposed to go ahead of us. So we had to cut across a side street and proceed toward Cipriani Boulevard without passing the judges booth. I was only partially disappointed by this turn of events. I would have liked to see the band in sections the way the designers envisioned, but NOT if that would have meant waiting three hours for Trini Revellers to assemble and cross the stage ahead of us. The strange thing is, when we got to the far side of the judging point around 7:45, we came a standstill for almost an hour and while we were stopped there, we saw hundreds of Trini Revellers masqueraders walking back through Harts to get to their assembly point. If they were not ready to cross the judging point until an hour and a half after we passed it, what was the harm in letting us go ahead? I'm just going to put that one down to politics, plain and simple.

As is sometimes the case in Carnival, and in life, a curse turned into a blessing. We didn't get jammed up behind Revellers, or anyone else, and that one-hour standstill outside the Savannah was really the only noticeable delay for the rest of the day. We also noticed that with the Harts cart, drinks were flowing MUCH more freely than the private cart we had patronized in years gone by. When the band took a break for lunch, our convenient hotel location made is possible for us to head home for a snack, a shower and a nap (!) before rejoining the band for the afternoon. I also decided to ditch my boots at that point because the hot pavement was making my feet swell and I knew there would be hell to pay if I didn't switch to sneakers. One of the high points of Tuesday was our 'collision' with Island People on Mucurapo Road. Lawd that was a blast! Being a masquerader, you don't often get to see other bands in their entirety. Our DJs serenaded them with 'Jumbie' and their trucks showered us with confetti. But I was just amazed at how massive that band was, and how many blasted trucks they had!!!! I think they had some 16 trucks compared to our 6. Talk about 'everything but the kitchen sink'. That's just overkill man! Having survived IP, the band slowly made it's way back to the mas' camp, and as usual, I was kicking up my heels until the very last song was done. As for my costume, in true Harts fashion, barely a single bead or sequin was lost at the end of the day. In fact, my only big complaint on the road this year was the Wee-wee truck. I found that this year the lines were unusually long and slow, and I think I would recommend to the band that they get a second truck. Or at least have an 'express-line' for those of us who don't wear tights and can be in and out in a jiffy lol

Overall, I have to say my experience with Harts was truly fantastic this year. The music was great, the vibe was sweet and I did not miss the stage at all. There are still a few areas where they need to make improvements, but they will definitely be seeing me in 2008.
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