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Jacmel opens Carnival season with jubilance and cooperation

JACMEL — Dancers’ brilliantly colored skirts swished as they paraded in Jacmel with the constant rat-a-tat-tatting of a snare drum and rhythmic blare of horns. Jubilant crowds, cheering and clapping, opened the festive Carnival season last month in Haiti.

The Jan. 16 parade in Jacmel marked the first of four Kanaval processions in the runup to the Lenten season. Just 60 miles northeast is Port-au-Prince, where Haiti’s National Carnival is reportedly canceled this year. All of the crowd’s favorites in Jacmel — bands, costumed groups and individual characters — made appearances, including revelers donning the much-revered, distinctive papier-mâché, for which the seaside town is renowned. 

Papier-mâché —it’s the identity of the Carnival,” said Edel Bayonne, a resident of Jacmel and long-time parade goer.

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