Calabar on Thursday stood still as the parade of the bands took centre stage in the ongoing cultural festival christened with the theme “The Season of Sweetness.”
The parade, which saw the various bands in their colourful costumes dance through the 12 kilometres carnival route, also saw a large number of residents, tourists and fun seekers cheering them.
Declaring the parade open, Gov. Bassey Otu of Cross River said they were bringing back the carnival in a bigger platform where it could truly be referred to as an international brand.
He added that the essence was to ensure that Cross River was really the choice tourism destination in Nigeria.
Some of the tourists from Lagos, who spoke with journalists said that the Calabar carnival was truly the biggest street party in Nigeria.
Mr Adebayo Adeyanju, a medical practitioner, who was attending the carnival for the second time with his wife and two kids, said it was really a spectacle to behold, adding that his kids were happy.
He, however, appealed to the government of Cross River to develop other tourism potentials of the state so that tourism would be an all-year-round activity not just in December – during the carnival.
“We have Obudu Cattle Ranch that is no longer functional; we have the Agbokim Waterfall and even Tinapa. All these great tourist sites were pushed down due to poor management,” he fumed.
Miss Clara Frederick, a Canadian, who was visiting Calabar for the first time, said she was having a good time as she had been treated well by the residents and would like to visit again in 2024.
BRANDPOWER reports that there is massive presence of security officials at different parts of the city, especially along the carnival route, with vehicular movements effectively diverted.
This is to forestall a reoccurrence of the 2022 incident where some people lost their lives and many were injured by a recklessly driven vehicle which ran into the carnival route.
The various bands are expected to interprete the theme of the carnival which is: “The season of Sweetness.”
They are expected to perform at different adjudication points where they will be judged by a panel and the winning band will go home with a cash prize.
Some of the competing bands in the event include the Master Blaster Band and Seagull Band.
Others are Diamond Band, Bayside Band, Passion Four Band, Calas Vegas Band among others.