PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) announced on Monday that Carnival 2020 has been cancelled. The 51st edition of St. Maarten Carnival is now scheduled to take place in April 2021.
This announcement comes after Prime Minister and Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) chairperson Silveria Jacobs decided on Thursday, March 12, to postpone Carnival 2020 indefinitely in response to the rapid spreading of coronavirus COVID-19 around the world. Jacobs said on Friday, March 13, that she hoped a reduced Carnival could be held in July.
“Having met with stakeholders this past weekend and having considered the effect on the entire product as well as the unpredictability of the coronavirus, the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation will extend the postponement of the 51st edition of Carnival until April 2021.
“We believe that all of us – the foundation, stakeholders, corporate sponsors and supporters – should view this as yet another opportunity to come together and plan a ‘comeback’ event that could rival the spectacular 50th Carnival and befitting our reputation as the largest Carnival in the Northeastern Caribbean,” said SCDF in a statement on Monday morning.
SCDF said government’s decision to postpone Carnival comes at a time of universal uncertainty. However, it was a decision “which we understand had to be made to protect residents and visitors alike,” said the foundation.
“As you can imagine, postponing Carnival a week before the first pre-Carnival event and a month before the opening of Carnival Village came as a harsh blow to Carnival stakeholders. Thousands of [United States – Ed.] dollars had already been invested at that point, leaving the foundation and stakeholders in precarious financial positions.
“Though the blow is significant, thankfully we have received understanding and cooperation from many partners who recognise that the situation remains out of our control, complicated and rapidly evolving. What is in our control, however, is when Carnival will be held.
“No one knows when the world will return to normal or when the coronavirus will be contained to the point where people feel 100 per cent safe to resume normal everyday activities, including large festivals and gatherings. We also don’t know when normal travel will resume, when artistes can re-book, when Carnival items can be sourced and from where.
“Carnival is a major undertaking with many moving parts. If you do not plan accordingly, you plan to fail spectacularly. The coronavirus does not allow any sort of indication as to when any sort of planning can even begin. Nobody knows what will happen.
“St. Maarten also lies in the hurricane belt and our people begin to save and prepare for the hurricane season as early as July. We also do not know how badly affected our economy will be and how this could restrict corporate sponsors who are crucial to every aspect of Carnival, local and international. Stakeholders agree that hosting Carnival outside of the usual timeframe without the usual financial advantages would be even worse,” said SCDF.
The foundation said that already-purchased season passes and tickets will be honoured in Carnival 2021, and requests that persons save their receipts.
“Persons who registered for a pass will still be able to pay for their pass at a given time in the future. We would appreciate if you would work with troupe leaders in particular, who are prepared to honour deposits for costumes to be used in 2021 and/or work with clients on a credit for the future.
“We are grateful for your understanding and for extending patience while we navigate this very serious situation. We urge everyone to follow the instructions of government and other relevant authorities and public health officials in these trying times,” concluded SCDF.