Suga Candy Mas is ‘Coming to America’ for Labor Day

Melissa Jones portrays “Majestic Legacy” designed by Shanica Robertson.
Photo by Nelson A. King

With the adoption of the movie title starring Eddie Murphy, the three-year-old Suga Candy Mas is “Coming to America” for the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway on Labor Day.

“This year is WIADCA [West Indian American Day Carnival Association] 50th anniversary, and it’s a celebration; so, we have decided to reiterate the [title of the] movie as a tribute to the carnival committee because of the popularity of the movie,” said Belizean-born band leader Maxine Magdaleno in a Caribbean Life interview.

“All ages are familiar with the movie, so I thought it would be nice to display that for the judges with a carnival twist,” she added.

Magdaleno, 31, said “Coming to America” features 12 sections: The First Wife; Queen Aoleon; Queen to Be; Majestic Legacy; Royal Oath; Crown Jewels; Princess of New York; Ruler of Zamunda; Protectors of Zamunda; Lost Queen; Royal Bloodline; and Zamundas Royalties.

With over 300 masqueraders altogether, Magdaleno said the sections comprise 30 to over 80 masqueraders, adding that: “We have masqueraders from all over the world – Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Belize, Jamaica and Guyana.”

As she placed the finishing touches to some costumes, Trinidadian Marlene Bournes, 41, one of Suga Candy Mas’s designers and primary wire bender, said the band “always like the African theme – a little bit of something.

“We want to bring a theme of essence, a theme of sophistication,” she said, adding that since she’s “into the Arts,” she loves the “journey towards Labor Day, working with people.

“Every day, you get to train the people and teach them more of the culture,” continued Bournes, section leader of Queen Aoleon, who has been designing mas for two decades. “Every year, I make it my business to teach someone something new – just to keep the culture alive.”

Bournes said she takes off from her regular job about two weeks before Labor Day, working from 10 am through midnight.

“Sometimes, I go straight through,” she said. “Sometimes, I go four nights straight without sleep.”

Magdaleno said preparations this year are “going very smooth for a new band.”

For the first two years, since formation in 2015, she said the Brooklyn-based Suga Candy Mas placed second for Small Bands, hoping to place first in the third year.

Suga Candy Mas also has two co-band leaders — Thishawn Adams and Curtis Small.

“They both are great additions to Suga Candy Mas and have contributed so much in our success,” said Magdaleno, who like Bournes, learned much of her craft from popular Trinidadian band leader and designer Kenneth Antoine, of the Brooklyn-based Antoine International.

Bournes said Antoine “brought carnival to Belize, and that’s how it [the idea for Suga Candy Mas] started.”

Magdaleno, who has been making mas for over 20 years, described herself as a “carnival junkie,” adding that she is “in love with mas.”

She said she has playing mas since she was 9, and was Junior Queen in the West Indian American Day Carnival until 16.

Bournes said she wants masqueraders “just to have a good time on the Parkway, and play up themselves.

“I’m just happy to be part of the Suga Candy organization,” she added. “We all work hard, and we’ll come on the road and display our hard work.”

Suga Candy’s DJs on the Parkway are: DJ flyboy, King Pin (King Addies); LDL Sounds; Mad Russian; Drillz International and DJ Primetime. Altitude Pro Sound System will provide the booming sounds for masqueraders, Magdeleno said.

Suga Candy Mas can be reached at: www.sugacandymas.com; Suga Candy Mas (Facebook); Suga Candy Mas (Instagram); or at (347) 656-3753.

The mas camp is located at 381East, 52nd Street, between Church and Snyder Avenues in Brooklyn.

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