By LETRE SWEETING
OPERATORS of this year’s “fully sanctioned” Christmas Carnival anticipate large crowds as the prices of tickets have not risen, and there are three new attractions and new safety measures available for the holiday event.
After two years of not being in operation in The Bahamas due to the COVID-19 pandemic and last year due to being denied approval from the Ministry of Health, the Christmas Carnival is back on Clifford Park. It is scheduled to open Thursday night and will remain in operation until late January.
Joseph Alberts, who is the manager and coordinator of the carnival provided by Midways by McCafferty Enterprises, was on the site yesterday helping to set up the few rides and attractions.
“The people are looking forward to having us, you know, we haven’t been here for years and this is our second home,” Mr Alberts said.
He added that the price of tickets for the carnival is the same as it was three years ago without increase due to inflation.
“We’re leaving the prices all the same with the way the economy is and how hard it has been for the people of the island and everywhere, we don’t want to raise our prices on our tickets or anything like that. So we’re going to leave them all like they’ve been in the past,” Mr Alberts said.
Along with new rides and attractions, Mr Alberts said this year’s Christmas Carnival also has new safety measures upon entrance to the event.
“We’ve got our famous pizza here and the chicken wings and a few other things. We’ve got some nice new games this year. We have a few new rides here this year. We have a new Minecraft ride, we got a new one called the Demon Loop, that’s new and so we have a few new things this year,” Mr Alberts said.
“People can do what they want as far as they still want to wear a mask. Also, for safety, we bought a $7,000 metal detector, so when the customers come through the gate, they’ll have to empty their pockets, just like going through an airport scanner, in case they have any knives or guns. That’s new, we just bought that this year, just to make it more family-oriented and we want to keep everything safe,” Mr Alberts said.
“We’ve never had any problem, ever, but it’s just an extra safety precaution to make people feel safer.”
In addition, he said the carnival is also considering a discount special after the holidays where people can pay one fee and ride as much as they want.
“Then we’re planning to have a few days of armbands after the holidays, I don’t know what days they are yet. But you can get one armband and ride the rides as many times, but that would be after the holidays and we’ll have them several times,” Mr Alberts said.
When asked about the price of the carnival to operate in The Bahamas this year, Mr Albert said he could not say at the time, but he did say, “for shipping all that it’s very expensive, but we love coming here”.
Last year, the Ministry of Health denied Midways by McCafferty Enterprises approval to have the event, citing COVID-19 related health concerns. This was after the equipment, apparatus, trailers and supplies for the carnival were already imported into the country and set up for operation last December.
At the time Mr Alberts had told reporters that Midways by McCafferty Enterprises had received permission from Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis, who is also the Minister of Finance, to bring and operate its yearly amusement park.
However, Health Minister Dr Michael Darville said at the same time that health officials were still reviewing the carnival’s requirements for operation, saying approval had not been given. He said the group still had some outstanding matters to address.
Meanwhile, press secretary Clint Watson blamed the situation on the carnival and them not having the official approval from the Ministry of Health, saying: “We say these are the approvals that are required, you can go and get approvals from various things. Included in that was, of course, the health protocol that will be required from the Ministry of Health.
“I think that was the final approval they were waiting on. It’s not a matter of ‘we’re here and we’re hoping that this happens’. The agreement that is made every year is that you come into the country, you make your request to come in, we tell you the approvals that will be necessary - but at the end of the day all of the approvals have to be in place,” Mr Watson said last year.
The last time the Christmas Carnival was fully in operation in The Bahamas was December 2019 into January 2020.