Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago is by far the highlight of the island's holiday calendar, and that goes for kids as well as adults. Just like mom and dad, the children of Trinidad & Tobago spend months (and vast sums of money) preparing for Carnival and readying themselves for the most elaborate costume parade you're ever likely to witness. Carnival Monday and Tuesday have a wild, adults-only reputation, but the Children's Carnival -- held the Friday before Ash Wednesday -- is a wholesome, family friendly affair.
You can't have Carnival without music
Just like the adult parades on Monday and Tuesday, the Children's Carnival moves to the beat of soca, a well-known style of Caribbean music, provided by rolling sound trucks blasting out high-decibel and highly addictive "road" songs. Locals and tourists alike can get down to these awesome jams and celebrate life with dancing, singing, and all-around fun!
These kids sporting Rasta colors get my award for the coolest kids at Children's Carnival. As you can see, not every costume is elaborate, but seemingly every kid in Trinidad wants to take part in the festivities, and show off their local pride and colors. Like many Caribbean festivals, the Children's Carnival in Trinidad is all about embracing fun, community, and culture.
Come into my parlor...
Costumes run the gamut from masquerade masks to insects to fictional characters. Here's a jolly young witch. At Carnival, it doesn't matter what you're dressed up as, as long as you're having a good time.
A regal boy
Some Children's Carnival costumes are purchased, but many are handmade in "mas camps" by young and old revelers alike. The pride is evident on this young marcher's face as he makes his way through the festivities grinning with spectacled glee.
Young girl with a sweet smile
Participants in the Children's Carnival range from preschoolers to young teens. Do you think this girl knows she looks beautiful?
Hiding in the middle of this great stingray costume is a young boy about age 10 with a mischievous grin. He moved about quite easily, so apparently this costume isn't as unwieldy as it looks!
Let's give a hand to ...
... This was one of the most impressive costumes we saw at Children's Carnival that year: a giant Carnival Queen that seemed to float behind its smaller counterpart. How does a young girl manage such a huge contraption?
Aha! Hidden under the skirts of the giant Carnival Queen is a clue to her graceful movements -- a good set of wheels! For those of us who have seen the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Carnival parades in New Orleans, seeing those wheels might remind us of the massive parade floats that ride up and down the parade routes. If that floats can do it, why not the performers? It sure does speed up the route!
A family tradition
Tourists and Trini natives alike turn out for the Children's Carnival each year. Could this be a future Carnival Queen?
Whether you've lived here your whole life or are just here for a visit, the Trinidad Children's Carnival is something unique and wonderful to behold. For at least this one day of the year, kids take center stage and strut their stuff. With smiles on their faces, amazing costumes at the ready, and pride in their hearts, kids of all ages can come out and spend the day celebrating their home and culture. For those who live there, it is a beloved tradition; for those of us visiting, it is a privilege to witness.