Former President of the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) Erno Labega, mainstay reveler Cleo Carti and long-time corporate partner Scotiabank has been selected as Carnival 2016 honorees. The SCDF made the announcement over the weekend, keeping with a tradition that started four years ago to recognize the contributions of individuals and companies that has been invaluable to the development of Carnival.
“There is a huge pool of stakeholders we choose from every year. People who has given so much to Carnival. There is never a wrong or right choice because we know that everyone instantly recognizes that the contributions of those selected are more than deserving of recognition,” Director of St. Maarten Carnival Mike Granger said.
Granger went on to describe Labega as the consummate Carnival lover who “we keep pulling back in.” Labega is one of the longest serving Presidents the SCDF has had, starting direct involvement with the foundation in the 90’s and continuing for the next decade and a half in various functions. He, along with Granger, was called back into service in 2010 after some of the most tumultuous years for Carnival on St. Maarten.
He was immediately appointed as treasurer with the task of getting the SCDF out of debt that approached US $300,000. When he left the foundation after Carnival 2014, the SCDF boasted an improved situation financially, buoyed on the involvement of new corporate partners secured by Labega.
“Erno is a Carnival lover through and through. Whenever he thinks he is out completely, we call him for something, be it advice or his influence. Carnival is in his blood so he is always there to help and his contributions over the years cannot all be adequately summarized. He is more than deserving of this honor,” Granger said.
Cleo Carti has been called by many as the Queen of the Road. She has been an individual reveler for over a decade and her elaborate costumes have been published in numerous destination and tourism magazines the world over. She is also described as a Carnival ambassador, usually taking it upon herself to promote St. Maarten Carnival whenever and wherever she could. On the road she is the center of attraction for tourists who take pictures with her along the parade route.
“Most importantly Cleo is dedicated to our festival, always with a word of advice, alwaus making the best of our fete. She understands that not everything will always be perfect and her Carnival spirit always overcomes. That is what we love and admire the most, her Carnival spirit and love for this island’s culture. This recognition is long overdue,” Granger said.
The SCDF has also chosen to honor Scotiabank this year, only the second time since it started honoring stakeholders that a company has been chosen. The first was ILTT. In honoring Scotia, the foundation recognizes the contributions the bank has made to Carnival for well over two decades. Scotia makes the popular Carnival calendar possible, the uniforms for the foundation members and other intangibles that are unseen by the public but wholly appreciated by the foundation.
“Scotia is our main banking partner and a dependable and dedicated corporate sponsor. The relationship between the foundation and Scotia is a solid one. It is one of the three corporate sponsors that the foundation has maintained for so many years. The cooperation and understanding for Carnival by bank personnel and management cannot be measured,” Granger said.
All honorees will receive their honors at a special event being organized by the SCDF in March, slightly different from the Village presentation that was used over the last few years. The foundation said the ceremony will be a private one with family and friends.