COLE BAY--Erica Fortuno and e360 Productionz launched the first costume selections for Carnival 2016 on Friday night. Popularly known throughout the Caribbean as a "Band Launch" (known on St. Maarten as troupe), such events serve as early kick-offs to Carnival giving the local public as well as those travelling to St. Maarten, a glimpse of what's in store for the Grand Carnival parades.
Fortuno has been building her troupe brand every year since establishing herself as a full-fledged troupe leader. Starting as a reveler then moving on to lead a section in an already established troupe, Fortuno decided last year to do it on her own under her company's brand E360 Productionz.
Looking towards the long term, she was adamant about raising the level of troupe exposure for St. Maarten's Carnival by hosting a band launch for her Carnival 2016 entry: "Xscape: Into the Abyss". The launch also featured one of Trinidad's famous "Band Launch Bodies" Soowan Bramble, who modeled one of Fortuno's front line costume pieces.
The event also featured local male and female models displaying the troupe's front and back-line costume pieces. Complete with vivid colours, feathers other accessories, the presentation featured costume selections of four premium, varied sections. The launch was part of the "Old School Party" held at the tent at Port de Plaisance.
"On behalf of the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) I congratulate Erica and her team for this major step in planting Carnival in the minds of residents and visitors from early," Vice President of the SCDF Edwardo Radjouki said. "Her early troupe launch compliments what the SCDF has endeavored to do over the past few years, begin early with preparations. We believe early preparation results in better execution that is why the work never stops for us. Troupe launches is a trend we hope picks up because it also gives our visitors who want to participate in the parades the opportunity to book early and budget for the costumes. If troupe leaders can sustain early troupe launches it will take Carnival to another level," he added. He was joined at the launch by SCDF's board member responsible for Carnival parades Chabely Cortico.
Fortuno added: "I was truly humbled by the support for the band launch. Thank you to my sponsors Chippie, Heineken, Johnny Walker and MegaSound International for their support. I'd also like to thank my past revellers, friends, family, and the general public for supporting this initiative. As St. Maarten Carnival continues to mature, higher quality events exemplary of the best practices in the larger and internationally recognized carnivals in the region will be increasing in demand. The next level to aspire to is the so called 'Band Launch'. I'm elated to have had this opportunity to start this growing trend in St. Maarten with the launch of Xscape the band, themed Into The Abyss. I look forward to providing the Xscape revelers with an experience of the same caliber on the road in 2016," she said.
Interested revelers should contact E360 Productions via its Facebook page: "e360 Productionz" or email Xscape@e360sxm.com.