From vibrant costumes to joyful dancing and energetic music, Junkanoo is a longstanding Bahamian tradition, passed down from generation to generation, celebrating Bahamian culture.
A special part about Junkanoo is engaging young Bahamians to join in on the tradition. As part of the Junior Junkanoo program, primary and high school age students learn more about Junkanoo – helping to conserve the heritage and pass it on to the next generation. Students spend several weeks choreographing dances, practicing traditional Junkanoo instruments, like goat skin drums, and creating costumes and parade floats out of materials such as cardboard and crepe paper to display for the community during the Junior Junkanoo competition.
This year, in collaboration with Junior Achievement Bahamas and The Bahamas Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Disney Cruise Line and local students from 10 schools in Eleuthera worked together to celebrate the rich traditions of Junkanoo. In addition to providing funding and donating materials to support the Eleuthera Junior Junkanoo competition, Disney Cruise Line hosted a series of virtual, interactive workshops for students to pair up with Disney professionals, who specialize in costuming, cosmetology and entertainment, to exchange ideas and learn from each other about Junkanoo and costume design. The students shared stories about Junkanoo traditions with their mentors, while Disney mentors shared ideas with the young artists to help spark their imagination and inspire creativity.
“This was a special experience for our team,” said Carlos Jimenez, managing producer, Disney Cruise Line. “It was wonderful to share our ideas with this amazing group of students to help inspire their designs, while at the same time, learn from them about Bahamian culture and the beautiful celebration of Junkanoo.”
After weeks of preparation, the students performed at the Eleuthera Junior Junkanoo competition on March 4 organized by The Bahamas Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, displaying their parade floats and handmade costumes for their community. Caithlyn, age 10, performed in the Junior Junkanoo competition after participating in virtual mentoring workshops with her Disney mentors. She said, “My classmates and I are celebrating the Bahamian culture by enjoying ourselves and doing what our parents and grandparents did back in the day.”
Clara Young is the program manager for Junior Achievement Eleuthera. She said, “This collaboration with Disney Cruise Line was truly incredible. After working with their Disney mentors, the students were so proud to celebrate Junkanoo and present their creative costumes to the community. It was a proud moment for all of us.”
Disney VoluntEARS from Walt Disney Imagineering, the team leading the development of a new experience in Eleuthera at Lighthouse Point, also joined the event.
“Junkanoo is at the heart of our Bahamian culture. Watching these young Bahamians learn about, celebrate and preserve our culture for generations to come is how we keep this tradition alive,” said Joey Gaskins, public affairs director, Disney Cruise Line. “Disney Cruise Line is proud to support programs, like Junior Junkanoo, that reflect the rich diversity of the world we live in. By pairing these students with our creative professionals, we can show them how their talents can be more than just a hobby and encourage these young people to dream big.”
Disney Cruise Line is creating a new experience in Eleuthera at Lighthouse Point, opening in summer 2024. It will be inspired by the natural environment and celebrate the culture of The Bahamas and Junkanoo. Created in close collaboration with local artists and advisors, the vibrant island retreat will be a unique celebration of Bahamian culture brought to life with the quality and service of a Disney vacation.
This initiative is part of Disney Cruise Line’s Wishes Set Sail campaign, developed to support various youth activities in key port communities in celebration of the Disney Wish’s inaugural season, and Disney Future Storytellers, The Walt Disney Company’s commitment to empowering the next generation of storytellers and innovators.