Published On: Mon, Oct 1st, 2018

From balloons to lampoons

Hilbert Haar - foto Milton PietersBy Hilbert Haar

Environmental issues have taken central stage in St. Maarten ever since Barbara Cannegieter et al filed a lawsuit against the government over the persistent fires at the dump. Add the Pride’s Foundation’s annual coastal cleanup to the mix, together with MP Sarah Wescot-Williams draft initiative law to ban single use plastic bags and you’d think there isn’t a soul on our island left who is not aware of these issues.

But the pitfalls along the road towards environmental awareness are manifold. I should be the last one to criticize the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation for putting a balloon event on its calendar for next year’s carnival.


Before I left St. Maarten towards the end of June, Myriam and I hosted a private party at Topper’s. And guess what? We chose to decorate the room at Topper’s with …. balloons.

We never thought about this, until Tadzio Bervoets brought the balloon event on the carnival calendar to our attention. Now I realize that it is easy to criticize and even easier to make mistakes you wish you hadn’t.

Yes, we have used reusable shopping bags on our island for as long as I care to remember. When we bought small items, we always refused to let store owners wrap them up for us in single use plastic bags. We always pick up our litter, never drop a scrap of paper on public roads, let alone on the beach.

But all this does not make us model citizens. The party balloons were a blooper that will stay with me for a long time.

However, all this will not stop me from contributing my thoughts about the carnival’s balloon-event.

As far as I know, the carnival foundation’s president, Alston Lourens, has not (yet) reacted to the criticism from the Nature Foundation.

And that gets me; there is still time to adjust the calendar and there is plenty of time to react to the criticism Tadzio Bervoets published. After all, there is no agenda here – this is criticism for the common good.

Maybe Alston gets the idea to switch from balloons to (paper) lampoons. The animal kingdom will be happy with such a change of direction and it would boost the credibility of the carnival foundation as an organization that organizes community events for everyone’s pleasure.

Taking a closer look at the carnival agenda, I figure there could be more criticism underway from the circles around Education Minister Wycliffe Smith. After all, there are now three carnival events scheduled to take place on a Sunday – something the minister has frowned upon on previous occasions.

So where do we go from here? Include a ban on latex balloons in the draft law that is designed to ban single use plastic grocery bags? It’s just an idea that could still fly – but not on Sundays.


Related article:
Sint Maarten Nature Foundation Urges St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation to Find Alternatives to Balloon Jump-ups and Parades for Carnival 50