Tuesday, April 16, 2024

THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Putting more pep in parade


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Can somebody, anybody, tell me since when has a Black Friday in superstitious Barbados been a carbon copy of the North American post-Thanksgiving day shopping mayhem?

I was so surprised to open my newspaper every day last week, to find pages and pages of advertisements luring Bajans to Black Friday sales. It was a surprise because in all of my years growing up and now growing old in Barbados, Black Friday was only a Friday that fell on the 13th day of any month and was always feared as being the unluckiest of days.

On its own, the number 13 is still steeped in superstition and I have been in hotels and multi-storied buildings with no 13th floors. After 12th is 14th. Many cities have no 13th Street or 13th Avenue. Some airports have no Gate 13.

So how, did the feared Black Friday evolve into a fearless day without the 13th for hysterical bargain shopping and now being adopted by Barbados?

A story circulating on social media reportedly wrongly traces the origins to slavery in the US, claiming that on that day after Thanksgiving slaves were sold at a discount to plantation owners preparing for the winter.

However, it seems the blame more likely is with the Philadelphia Police Department. Faced in the 1960s and 1970s with retailers starting the holiday shopping season by offering “can’t miss” deals, the Department labelled the day Black Friday because the stores and streets were too crowded and police had to be on extra duty. They hoped a distasteful name would make people shun away.

It didn’t work and today we mark our 48th year of Independence two days after a consumption-driven Black Friday on the 28th day of the month.

Am I suggesting it should be stopped? Of course not. Rather, with effect from next year, on the eve of our 50th anniversary celebration, let’s go the whole hog, sorry turkey, and designate the last Thursday in November our Independence Thanksgiving Day, inclusive of traditional-to-be turkey dinner, followed by the consumer-focused Black Friday and climaxing with Independence Day.

But something would be missing. With no branch of the Macy’s here we can’t copy the elaborate Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. However, we do have our annual Independence Day Parade.

So let us glamorise that with the addition of some large floats and monster balloons, hundreds of attractive girls in nippy Crop Over costumes and so. Then, instead of having it staged on the Garrison Savannah or in the Port, let it be a three-hour parade from the said Garrison or Port to Independence Square.

Of course, money would be a challenge for Government to do so in these challenging times. So have it bear the name of a major corporate sponsor, preferably one that sounds like the American counterpart.

Did I hear somebody suggest Massy’s Thanksgiving Independence Day Parade?

Happy Independence Day.


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