Why we should channel the carnival spirit to unite in fight against coronavirus - Laura Collins, YEP Editor

The plug has been pulled on celebrations this Bank Holiday weekend – but let’s unite in a different way to keep our communities safe.

Monday, 24th August 2020, 6:00 am
Last year's Leeds West Indian Carnival celebrations.

The Bank Holiday weekend is seen as the crescendo of the city’s summer cultural calendar.

Year after year thousands of people have flocked to the fields of Bramham Park as it is transformed into a sea of blue and green tents.

It is something as a rite of passage for generations of music fans as they soak up the spectacular sights and sounds of Leeds Festival.

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Braving the mud or basking in the sun – come rain or shine – even the most ardent of festival-goers wouldn’t be deterred from the compelling ability of music to unite people together in song.

But organisers have been forced to pull the plug on the annual Bank Holiday bonanza due to a very sinister threat.

Coronavirus has changed so many aspects of our lives over the course of this year.

It has seen us parted from our loved ones, missing out on various milestones and as a result so many planned celebrations have fallen victim to the virus.

The same can be said about its impact on this year’s vibrant Leeds West Indian Carnival celebrations.

Over the last 50 years the event, which was established as a remedy for homesickness for those who came over from the Caribbean, has attracted more than 150,000 spectators from across the UK.

But this year will be very different. The streets of Leeds won’t be filled with the colourful blaze of costumes and festivities. Instead organisers are encouraging festival-goers to take their celebrations online as they look to hold a virtual version of the carnival.

Speaking at the time of the event’s cancellation Dr Arthur France said: “As carnivalists, we know how to unite the city through joy, happiness and adversity and it’s these qualities that will help us get through these difficult times.”

At the heart of the carnival community has been the true spirit of channelling positivity and spreading love across the city and beyond.

Carnival has the unique ability to unite people from different faiths, backgrounds and races – shaping its key role in celebrating the city’s identity.

Yet despite this blow, the resolve of carnival has never been stronger. In the face of uncertainty and bitterness against the pandemic there has been a real sense of unity.

The city of Leeds has come together in a real display of compassion to help support and care for those in need.

We have seen remarkable acts of kindness towards the most vulnerable in our city, as well as a sincere sense of gratitude to those key workers who have played a vital role in the darkest of times.

We have seen calls for the city to unite in the face of the virus by ensuring that each and every one of us plays a role in keeping ourselves and others safe from the silent killer.

And that is why we are echoing the reminder that we can all play our part in keeping communities safe from the spread of Covid-19 by avoiding any large gatherings, particularly during this coming August Bank Holiday weekend.

The plug might have been pulled on two of our biggest celebrations but let’s channel the spirit of carnival and continue to unite in the fight to keep our loved ones and communities safe.

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