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Some members of the Thunderbirds carnival band
Some members of the Thunderbirds carnival band

Two major carnival bands are staying away from this year's organized Carnival band parade over a year-long on-going dispute.

Caesar "Zah" Emmanuel, the president of the Thunderbirds Band has confirmed that his 60-year old organization along with Karnival Korner Karnival (KKK) embroiled in a court dispute with the Discover Dominica Authority (DDA) will not participate in this year's carnival activities of the DDA and the Dominica Festivals Commission (DFC).

The bands have opposed DDA's selection of Afrikulture Stilt Walkers as Adult Band of the Year for Carnival 2016.

The bands claim that Afrikulture Stilt Walkers breached two of the judging criteria; one that the band must have fifty adult persons and two that it must make two complete rounds around the carnival route.

"We are not participating in the DFC registered carnival…however, we will be playing mass. We are not boycotting carnival since we love it but we are disappointed and dissatisfied with the DDA/DFC over the decision last year which forced us to take the matter to court and which has no resolution yet," Emmanuel said.

This will be the second time in the 60-year history of the Thunder Birds band that it would not have taken part in Carnival activities in Dominica.

"The DFC/DDA knows that they are wrong in the matter. We got the footage, it's clear that the judges violated the rules as set out. We have been to court three times and was asked to settle the matter by the presiding Judge but they are refusing to move," Emmanuel said.

Emmanuel said that on Carnival Monday band members would have been parading in traditional costumes and on the Tuesday would have worn normal costumes.

"We are not happy about what happened last year and they are taking us for a joke. We spend time planning and preparing that is why we are 60 years and we need to send a clear message to the powers that be," he said.

Emmanuel is assuring Thunderbirds fans that once the matter is resolved the band will be back.

"We are ready and willing to settle the matter," he said.

Meanwhile, the DDA has announced plans for carnival 2017. At a press launch on Thursday at the Fort Young Hotel, Robert Tonge, the minister of tourism said government had decided to increase its annual subvention "to allow for greater marketing of our carnival product."

DDA also announced greater levels of collaboration with village level carnival organizing committees and their participation in the Roseau band parade.

The 2017 theme is: "Domnik Ki Dou".

"Dominica is nice/sweet… Come revel with us," Tonge said.