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Organizers of Hartford Cultural Events Mulling Cancellation

I see people commenting about the cities lack of support of “our” events. Unuh stop it!  News flash, the City of Hartford is broke! Bronin announced that 3 hours after taking office last January. And no, the money that they suddenly found in their coffers and that the CEO’s are pledging to give should not be earmarked for our cultural events. They are closing schools and eliminating other critical social service which should be higher priorities than our need right now to have our parade or festival.  If it’s true that the City gave $25,000 to support the St. Patrick’s day parade, then that is because the restaurants in downtown Hartford more than likely benefit greatly from the influx of suburbanites into the City on that one day.  That investment means more tax revenue for the City and State.

West Indian people don’t support or frequent businesses in downtown Hartford and they probably have very legitimate reasons, in addition to parking, why they should not and do not (e.g. stares, harassment, nothing for us, potential big rhaatid parking ticket).  The majority of us only show up twice a year in August; first for the Taste and second for the conclusion of the Parade event. I applaud the Irish community for putting their coins together so that they can have their event. Last year Celebration tried a GoFundMe effort by reaching out to the community.  I don’t even think they managed to raise $200 from the very group of people who love to beat their chest and brag that Hartford has the third largest West Indian immigrant population in the United States. Imagine that, $200 degeh dollars raised from the nations 3rd largest West Indian population! Unuh should a shame. I was, and I gave money!

For the people still griping about the parade being re-routed to end in downtown Hartford… listen, the parade needs more than bodies to show support. The parade needs funds, some of which should be coming from vendors. Selling jerk pork and “beverages” out of the trunk of your car, as a lot people did back on the Main Street days, is illegal, unsanitary and does not support the parade.  Downtown offered a controlled environment which forced people to comply with the food and safety codes of the City and the Celebration committee also gained a little money to help offset the cost of an extremely expensive event. Unuh did tink seh the parade free? Police escort and protection; cleanup crews, outdoor latrine, sound and PA system, dj’s and all dem tings deh NUH FREE!

In any case, ending my rant now but before I go, I need to drop this disclaimer… and suggestions.  I was a community volunteer for years. When I unpacked after my recent move, I was quite astonished with the number of thank you tokens that I received for my efforts for volunteering in the West Indian community. Honestly, most of them were chucked into a corner at my old condo for years.  I am not really participating right now but I have not abandoned my roots for being an advocate of the promotion and preservation of our culture through these events. So before you all run wid it seh me a fight ‘gainst the parade, that is not the case. I am just really tired of the complaints and really disappointed that we weren’t placed in a better position so that we could have told the City of Hartford what they could have done with themselves when they withdrew their funding.  I’m saying all that but also adding the disclaimer that I love mayor Bronin still…#bigivYSolidarity and #AllAroundNiceGuy.  None of this was his fault! 
Since the Puerto Rican Day parade is officially dead (for this year), the Latino Festival and Taste of the Caribbean is getting ready to fundraise and the West Indian Celebration Parade and finale is questionable (although their advertising states otherwise) maybe we should consolidate our resources and celebrate our heritage under one  international festival.  OR… maybe we should take a page from the book of DJ Ace.  He branched out and made a small, for pay jouvert event that caught on from the event launch last year. Even hardcore dancehall heads were out there in the mix and the event was such a success that they are planning the second one for June of this year.  Maybe somebody could organize a for pay cultural show. Or maybe the people who drop roses to cushion Bronin’s path through our neighborhoods should try to convince him to rethink his position and sell him the idea that our event(s) could actually be tourism products for the state of Connecticut.  IN any case, there are other ways that we can celebrate our culture on a smaller and less grand scale and stage and achieve the same result. Fret not, or worry thyselves that the St. Patrick’s Day parade will still be here this year.  

~Natasha  

About Natasha Samuels

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2 comments

  1. This was well written and should appear on the bulletin board at City Hall!!! I don’t live in Hartford and I feel you.

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