- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 25, 2005

Masqueraders in colorful costumes, jewels and feathered headdresses strutted down Georgia Avenue in Northwest yesterday during the D.C. Caribbean Carnival Parade while revelers on sidewalks joined in by waving national flags and dancing in the streets.

The D.C. Pan Jammers steel-drum band got the party started as crowds swayed to the music and politicians and mayoral hopefuls threw strands of beads from their cars into the crowds. Some carnival-goers gulped bottles of water in the 90-degree heat as they settled into chairs to watch the array of troupes. Others jumped to their feet to dance when the sound trucks arrived, pumping nonstop music from super-sized speakers pulled by even larger trailers through the throbbing streets.

LaShaun King, 24, traveled from Raleigh, N.C., to participate in the District’s annual event. Ms. King represented Barbados in the parade and wore the country’s colors of blue, gold and black.

“This is my first time at the D.C. Caribbean Carnival,” she said. “My father is from Barbados and my mother is from Guyana. So I will represent Guyana at the carnival in New York during the Labor Day weekend.”

Ms. King noted the District’s carnival features a group that she had never seen before: the Mudders, revelers slathered in clay who don’t mind sharing a little mud here and there.

“Everyone else has the masqueraders but the Mudders must be just for D.C.,” she said.

Her friend, Tiffany Fields, 23, also joined in the parade and strutted down the avenue. Ms. Fields arrived from Columbia, S.C., to represent Trinidad and Tobago. She wore a black, red and white scarf. Like Ms. King, yesterday was the first time she had experienced the pageantry and revelry of the D.C. Caribbean Carnival.

“I thought it was beautiful seeing all of the different flags representing their countries,” Ms. Fields said.

Aisha Dudley, a member of “The Ladies of Alize,” donned a silver-and-white costume with a white plume rising from her headdress. She was one of the 30 members in her section.

It’s the excitement of carnival that has kept her coming back for five years.

“Just the vibes alone, the music and the people,” said Ms. Dudley, 26. “Everybody coming out to have a good time. You know, people from around the world come here just to [enjoy] the vibes.”

The parade ended shortly after 2 p.m. with the Mudders, who delighted both passersby and spectators alike. Guy Mentor, of Waldorf, said he enjoys being a member of the Mudders because “there’s nothing like it.”

“I like being a Mudder because there’s no mistake — I was in the parade,” he said. “And we’re the last band to close out the carnival.”

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