PHILIPSBURG - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) opened registration for Carnival 2017 over the weekend, a process that will take place fully online as of 8:00am on September 5, 2016. Opening of registration is the latest preparatory phase as the foundation is getting ready to host St. Maarten’s 48th Carnival festivities.
Since the close of Carnival 2016, the foundation has had a very active “offseason” with the election of a new President in the person of Alston Lourens, appointing new board members to the foundation, the outsourcing of its Calypso competition to Fernando Clark and his team, the formulation of the 2017 schedule which will soon be released and dealing with several other operational matters.
Annually, Carnival registration opens on September 1 and runs until November 1. This year, the foundation has decided to maintain the same period for registration, but has moved the registration process entirely online. Meaning, the large amounts of registration forms that used to be distributed at various locations are now relegated to the past. The SCDF is fully digital.
Registration forms for all things Carnival related can be found on the foundation’s website atwww.sxm-carnival.com. Lourens explained that only registrations obtained through the online process will be considered valid. “In the past we often received registrations via means that were a challenge to control. Most of the business of Carnival now is done digitally. It was a natural progression for us to move the registration process online. The less paper, the better,” Lourens said.
Lourens added that registration for Season Passes are is also now open and payment for the pass can begin as early as October 1, 2016. Registration for this popular aspect of Carnival used to open in December. “But with requests from many Carnival lovers to open it earlier, it was something we thought could only help as we are essentially giving the public seven months to pay for the season pass,” Lourens said.
As for the 2017 Carnival schedule, Lourens said all dates are set and ready for release to the public soon. “The Carnival schedule is not easy to put together. You have to consider so many stakeholders, Easter holidays, school holidays, government input ect. It takes about a month or more to finalize a schedule. We have reached that point and we are excited about what the season will offer,” he said.
Lourens said he is looking forward to his first year as President, comfortable in knowing that he still has an experienced team of Carnival organizers around him. He also said 2016 was a year of necessary change for the foundation and does not expect 2017 to feature many wholesale changes to Carnival.
“We knew that we had to change and implement new things for Carnival 2016 and we knew there would be resistance. But in the end, the changes were for the better and the operational structure of Carnival is better because of these changes. Is it perfect? No. The challenge of financing remains, but we still manage to host one of the best Carnivals in the entire Caribbean,” Lourens said.
“As a team we look forward again to host Carnival for residents and visitors, we look forward to extending our marketing reach in the world and further establishing Carnival as a real, positive economic activity generator for St. Maarten,” he concluded.
It was also announced that Carnival’s new email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The old email address email@example.com has been discontinued.