The President's Message


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Mrs. Shirley Shillingford, August 1999

It is with immense pleasure that I welcome everyone to this great event - Boston’s annual Caribbean American carnival. This celebration promises to be festive, rich, and inspiring. We take pride in our diversity. Our culture demonstrates beauty, artistry, steel drums, food, and costumes of many themes in an array of colors.

Over the last 26 years, the Caribbean community has provided an exceptional performance by abundantly contributing to Boston’s cultural diversity through the Caribbean American Carnival. Our goal is to embrace all people, welcome all cultures, so that we can all learn from each other. Caribbean Americans have been magnanimous in sharing themselves in Boston.

It is time that the City of Boston acknowledges in a tangible manner, the significant economic value the Caribbean Carnival brings to it. The City ought to take a leadership role in first recognizing the substantial contribution Caribbean people make in Boston, to their home away from home. Who would refute the contributions of these hardworking, industrious and fun loving people? The Caribbean Carnival in Boston is open to everyone and therefore is it lucrative for the City. It is that financial contribution that the City should recompense by putting resources into the presentation of Carnival and facilitate Carnival’s continuity as a Boston tourist attraction. Other cities have done so.

Carnival costumes bring out the tourists and residents from far and near and behind the scenes of the pageantry are the designers and bandleaders of the costumes. They bring a passion to making the colorful costumes. That Passion is powerful and we know that nothing was ever achieved without it, and nothing can take its place: If your passion is great enough you will find the strength to succeed. So band leaders and costume makers I thank you for your dedication; continue to put your heart, mind and soul into the smallest thread, as this is the essence of passion and the secret to successful life. We are here based on our past efforts.

Let us reflect with pride on how we made our accomplishments in “1998". We possess, and used determination, perseverance, positive attitude and energy. We celebrated 25 hears of history which was great. We let our pride, ideas, determination, and our keen ability to seize new opportunities spread from one person to another, and throughout an entire organization and the community. But as we moved forward, we lost one of our guiding lights.

Our members were deeply saddened at the loss of one of our pillars for 25 years - Ivy Ponder. For the first time since the inception of Caribbean carnival, we will not see him with his staff as Marshal and directing all of us what we need to do. His loss has certainly left a void not only in the organization but also in our hearts. As one of the founding members of the Carnival committee, we must continually thank him for his pioneering spirit. Many of us know that there is no thanks, and sometimes not even an appreciation for the countless hours spent with the hope of making carnival a success. However, pioneers are not afraid of failure, and thinkers who are not afraid of progress have the courage to live out their dreams. Mr. Ponder lived out one of his dreams.

“Towards greater unity in the new millennium” is our 1999 theme and it is far from a dream. Our theme will bring to the community a special and competitive high-geared cultural extravaganza. This year is very special: we are closing this century with a lot of momentum, a stronger spirit of teamwork, and a reaffirmation of our goals and working together.

In conclusion, I must express my most sincere appreciation to the Carnival committee members and the Advisory board members for their continued support. We have confirmed that “ Difficulties mastered are opportunities won, and opportunities multiply as they are seized.” To my two daughters...I thank you for the special bond we share, and for the confidence and love you so often express. Words are inadequate to express my gratitude for your tolerance and appreciation for the work that I do in the community. In all my efforts the words of Robert Kennedy are an inspiration, “those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly”. And I believe that the glory of success is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.


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