PHILIPSBURG:--- The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) have chosen troupe leader Jasmine Philips, costume builder Alberto Brooks and long-time sponsor Nagico Insurance as its Carnival 2017 Honorees. The foundation, on an annual basis, selects three individuals/companies to honor for their overall and sustained contributions to carnival. With Carnival stakeholders spread far and wide, the foundation is never short on possible persons to honor.
Three three honorees chosen this year are mainstays in Carnival and, according to the SCDF, is firmly entrenched as part of the overall Carnival brand. In troupe leader Jasmine Philips, the foundation is honoring not just a troupe leader, but someone whose passion is Carnival and who sacrifices personally to ensure that come what may, she is part of the festivities.
Her “Survivors” troupes, both children and adults, participates in the parades every year without missing a step. She has won several troupe and costumed individual awards over the years and, according to the SCDF, seems to be getting better and more creative with her troupes every year. Besides Survivors, Philips has also made her name as a queen pageant chaperone, taking responsibility for at least two contestants annually, sometimes more.
“Jasmine and Survivors are such a big part of Carnival, we can’t imagine the festival without them. Her contributions and participation go back decades and, most importantly, it’s consistent which shows a true love for Carnival. She is always there. She has a big heart, always willing to help the foundation when we ask and assist pageant contestants out-of-pocket. She sacrifices to put her troupes on the road and is a Carnival lover through-and-through. There are not many people more deserving to be honored for their contribution to Carnival than Jasmine Philips,” the SCDF said.
The second honoree is costume builder Alberto Brooks whose costumes have won countless awards and are featured in everything from queen pageants to individual road pieces. Brooks, himself a parade reveler once, is also the architect behind the King Momo statue that is burnt at the end of Carnival festivities. He also makes all of the crowns worn by Junior and Senior Calypso and Roadmarch winners.
He too, said the SCDF, personally gives back to Carnival by helping others when sponsorship scarce and takes great pride in seeing his costumes on display. “When Alberto stopped reveling in the parades he devoted all of his time to assisting participants of the Dutch and French Carnival festivities. His artwork goes a lot deeper than just the large costumes. He makes all sorts of festive hats and outfits for the regular onlooker and constructs floats when asked. He has placed his stamp on Carnival for years and we think it is beyond time he is recognized for it,” the SCDF said.
It is a public secret that the Carnival foundation is heavily dependent on corporate sponsorship. With government subsidizing the foundation for 25 percent of its overall budget, the remaining 75 percent must be funded entirely by contributions from the private sector. Enter Nagico Insurances, a company that has literally kept Calypso alive on St. Maarten.
The foundation explained that Nagico was chosen for its commitment to the art form of Calypso as well as contributions “we typical do not see. Meaning, while the company sustains Calypso, it also gives to other parts of Carnival as a good and responsible corporate citizen,” the SCDF said.
“Mr. Amjad McSood and his team has been dependable partners for Carnival and for a part of our culture, Calypso, that is vital to our festival and to the development of young singers with great potential. Though some may say Nagico is primarily a sports-centered company, we can attest that the company touches more than just sports and does so in a significant way. It just so happens that this year is also Nagico’s 35th anniversary, something we didn’t even know back in November when we made our honorees selections. We are grateful for what the company continues to do for Carnival,” the SCDF said.
The selected honorees are always a close kept secret and is never informed prior to the official media announcement. A special honoree ceremony will be held in April before the official opening of Carnival.