Little Bits of History

February 17

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 17, 2017

2015:  Eighteen people are killed during a Mardi Gras parade. Mardi Gras is also called Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday. Carnival is a period in the Christian calendar, beginning after the feast of the Epiphany (aka Three Kings Day and traditionally celebrated January 6) and the day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The period often culminates in celebrations and parades on the day before the forty days of Lent begin, a time of sacrifice and atonement. Port-au-Prince is the capital of Haiti and there is a huge following there to celebrate this holiday. A parade was held on Champ de Mars. During this parade, around 2.48 AM, a disaster struck.

Fantom was the lead singer for a Haitian hip hop band or rap kreyòl called Barikad Crew, sometimes just called BC. The band was formed in 2002 and has had several tragedies befall them. Papa K-tafalk, Deja-Voo and Kondagana started the band to create music reflective of life in the slums of Haiti. They were commercially successful when their singles were released, allowing them to finally put out an entire album in 2007. The membership of the band has altered over time. In 2008 while travelling to a concert, Papa K-tafalk, Deja-Voo and Dade were killed in a car accident. Young Cliff was killed in the January 2010 earthquake that rocked the island. On this day, Fantom was riding atop a float in the parade when he made contact with a high-voltage power line. He survived the jolt and was in stable condition after the event.

The electrifying event caused a stampede among the revelers. It was at first thought that sixteen people were killed but later reports increased the numbers. Fifteen men and three women were killed and another 78 people were injured in the hysteria following the initial accident. Video of the event can be found at You Tube.

The Prime Minister of Haiti called for three days of mourning for the 18 people killed. There was also a state funeral and vigil for the victims held on February 21. In order to honor those who lost their lives on that fateful night, another parade, this one to be held in silence would follow the same route on Champ de Mars. The President of Haiti offered his condolences and the Minister of Communications announced the government’s plan to modernize the state electricity company to keep other events like this one from happening.

There’s a thing I’ve dreamed of all my life, and I’ll be damned if it don’t look like it’s about to come true-to be King of the Zulu’s parade. After that, I’ll be ready to die. – Louis Armstrong

I love Mardi Gras. I’m a street rat. – Mitch Landrieu

Do what you do. This Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, Twelfth Night, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Paddy’s Day, and every day henceforth. Just do what you do. Live out your life and your traditions on your own terms. If it offends others, so be it. That’s their problem. – Chris Rose

It has been said that a Scotchman has not seen the world until he has seen Edinburgh; and I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans. – Mark Twain

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