First some info and history.....then pictures and video....
"Carnival in St Kitts is celebrated from about the middle of December to early January and features street jamming, carnival shows, parades of troupes, bands and folklore. A major highlight of St Kitts carnival is 'J'ouvert Morning', where revelers party and dance in the streets to the pulsating sounds of the steel bands, brass bands and hi-fi sets. The jamming starts from dawn on December 26 until the last band stops playing. Since carnival in St Kitts takes place during the Christmas season, there is a double reason to celebrate. This time of the year is by far the most festive time on the island."
-Carnival and J'ouvert as described by a Caribbean website
Here is more information from Wikipedia.com:
"J'ouvert - a contraction of the French jour ouvert, or day open (morning) - is a large street party during carnival in the eastern Caribbean region. J'ouvert is celebrated on many islands, including Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
J'ouvert (pronounced 'joovay' locally) involves calypso/soca bands and their followers dancing in the capital cities of the various islands. The festival starts well before dawn and peaks a few hours after sunrise when revelers have tired out or been bludgeoned into submission by strong rum. Part of the tradition involves smearing paint, mud, or oil on the participants known as Jab Jabs. This is done in remembrance of a civil disturbance in Port of Spain, Trinidad, when the people smeared themselves with oil to avoid being recognized."
And now for the pictures.....
My co-worker Tregenza is part of a troupe every year for J'ouvert, and this year he invited Keith (the Director of Campus Living at Ross), Cory and myself to join him. We received t-shirts, water bottles, bandanas and masks, and we were told to meet at 4:00am for the start of the festivities.
Here we are, bright and early, ready to go....the name of our troupe is Extreme Warriors
Basically, this is how it works once you start marching: A giant stage piled high with huge speakers gets pulled all through town by a tractor really slowly. The speakers are blasting Carnival music at full volume, and you either go in front of the stage or behind it, dancing away to the music. This picture shows all of the people in front of the stage, it is coming up behind them
At the back of the crowd, bringing up the rear, is a truck full of beer, rum and coke, vodka...all sorts of drinks. Whenever you want more, you just fall back to the truck, hand them your water bottle to get filled, then jump back in with the crowd. Here are Cory and Treg getting their bottles filled as we head out.
Keith, Treg and myself, following behind the music truck
I finally found someone to put paint on me!
Following the truck and the crowd into the center of town, the Circus
People people everywhere! We had about 600 people in our troupe!
Here is a video of the entire experience....a bit long, but worth a viewing