The reef off Diddley’s Landing public pier will be the site of Blacktip Island’s inaugural Underwater Columbus Day Parade Monday. The island’s Cultural Society hopes the event will ease holiday tensions. (photo by Wendy Beaufort/staff)
The Blacktip Island Cultural Society Thursday announced its inaugural Underwater Columbus Day Parade, slated for Monday night at the island’s pubic pier, as a way to ease tensions among island residents on the controversial holiday.
“Columbus isn’t the hero here he is in other parts of the Western hemisphere,” island historian Smithson Altschul said. “Here he’s best known for genocide and pillaging. That makes for a good bit of friction between locals and some of the expats.
“Locals shooting expats with red paintball pellets all day releases some of the frustration,” Altschul said. “But it doesn’t address the divisions or heal old wounds.”
The underwater parade aims at bridging that gap, organizers said.
“We’re not celebrating Columbus so much as we are the arrival of scuba tourism,” BICS chair Peachy Bottoms said. “That’s the one thing that truly unites Blacktippers. Scuba is the industry on this little rock. We’re all thankful for that.
“The underwater parade, with divers from all walks of life, from all the resorts, will emphasize how we have more in common than we realize,” Bottoms said. “People can still shoot each other with paintballs until sunset, but the parade will be non-violent, totally inclusive and focused on the positive.”
To engage non-divers, event organizers made the parade spectator friendly.
“Divers’ll wear multicolored marker lights so they’ll be easy to follow,” parade grand marshal Catalina Luxfer said. “And they’ll be diving off Diddley’s Landing, so there’s plenty of room for a crowd.
“We’ve built a scaffolding with bench seats to allow for as many viewers as possible,” Luxfer said. “The divers’ll go in at sunset, after the police collect all the paintball guns, then after the parade there’ll be a big party on the pier.”
The after party will feature the first performance by island supergroup Ragnarok Lobster, made up of members of defunct island-favorite bands.
“From the Social Morays there’s Alison Diesel on lead guitar, and Marina DeLow on bass and backing vocals,” Bottoms said. “From Effing Zeagles there’s Finn Kiick on drums, and from Ivan and the Embolizers they’ve got Gage Hoase on lead vocals and beer cans.”
BICS members hope to cap the evening by burning a scale-model Spanish caravelle as both a celebration and a protest of Columbus’ arrival.
“Everyone was in favor of setting something on fire, for whatever reason,” Luxfer said. “People can interpret the ship burning however they want.
“It’s a no-go unless there’s an offshore breeze, though,” Luxfer said. “We launched a trial ship last week, and the wind pushed it back into the mangroves. We barely got the fire put out before it hit the Tale Spinner lounge. Fire ships are all fun and games until a bar burns.”