This bank holiday weekend we would normally be celebrating Leeds West Indian Carnival, but as we all know, things aren’t so normal at the moment, and haven’t been for a while. As such, the big cultural events which usually adorn the Leeds calendar and enable us to all celebrate and recognise the important contribution that our diverse communities bring to the city have all been cancelled.
The St Patrick’s Day Parade back in March was one of the first events to go due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Back then, Mary, one of the ‘faces’ of our Age Proud Leeds campaign, told us what the annual parade and celebration means to her:
“I look forward so much to St. Patrick’s day parade, l take part in making the props for the Leeds Irish Health & Homes float and Teresa and Carol choose the theme. It is heartwarming to see so many people line the streets to watch the parade and it’s great to see so many nationalities come and celebrate with us. Afterwards, we have singing and dancing in Millennium Square, ‘Donegal Mary ‘ sells and cooks Irish food in the lovely tea tent. Brings back some lovely memories.”
The annual Pride celebration, which usually takes place in early August, was another huge event which was cancelled. Pride did however go online and Age Proud Leeds ran an online workshop for Silver Pride, about ageism in the LGBTQ+ communities, which was attended by people of all ages, enthusiastic to make things better for older LGBTQ+ people.
Organiser Craig Burton, and Friends of Dorothy founder, said: “It’s been a huge disappointment that Pride events around the world haven’t been able to go ahead this year, but we’re determined to keep the party going and make sure the older generations still have a reason to celebrate. They are the reason we are all here – they paved the way and fought for us to enjoy life as we do today. Hosting an online celebration for them is the least we can do. Silver Pride is all about championing inclusion, celebrating individuality and connecting our communities. It will be a celebration of LGBT history, our freedom of expression and recognition of the fact we stand on the shoulders of giants.”
And so to Carnival! The Bank Holiday weekend just won’t feel the same without the costumes, the music, the food, the energy that this great cultural event always injects into our city. Age Proud Leeds were looking forward to being at Carnival this year to promote our messages around tackling ageism and speak with people about attitudes to ageing.
There will be a Virtual Carnival! Residents are able to join in online for ‘a day that brings the spirit of the J’ouvert morning and the road parade online’. Earlier this year, Arthur France, the driving force behind the Leeds West Indian Carnival, spoke to Leeds Older Peoples’ Forums’ Shine magazine about why Carnival is so important:
“The Carnival is a celebration of emancipation. It’s not just the music and beautiful costumes, it’s the passion behind it. And a deeper meaning.”
Sadly the parades and the parties won’t be taking place this year, but we still want to shout out to the older people from all the different communities of our city, celebrate our cultural heritage and acknowledge the contribution you have made and continue to make.
As well as challenging ageism, Age Proud Leeds is currently highlighting the diversity of older people and the contributions made by older people from all of our communities, in our Older Different Equal message. We’re busy making podcasts and writing blogs featuring a range of topics and voices. If you would like to contribute a story or get more involved in the campaign we’d love to hear from you!
Communities Officer, Time to Shine