My thanks to the Krewe of Junkanoo and Marcia Wiles (reigning Queen of the Krewe of Junkanoo) for allowing me to share the origin of the "Junkanoo" name and a brief history of their Krewe:
"The most accepted origin of the word 'Junkanoo' comes from the name John Canoe, who was an African prince and slave trader operating in the Gold Coast who was said to have outwitted the English and subsequently gained control of Fort Brandenbury in the seventeenth (17th) century. Upon gaining control of the fort John Canoe became a hero and was worshipped and idolized by the slaves. In the pre-Emancipation era, the slaves were given three days off during the year; December 25th & 26th and January 1st. On December 26th and January 1st the slaves were allowed to perform their Junkanoo Festival. The festival was commercialized in the 1920’s and held on Bay Street for the first time thus making it the main tourist attraction for the Bahamas.
"The Pensacola Beach Krewe of Junkanoo was formed in 1996 by April Hargrove and Joy Domm to resemble the Junkanoo Festival in the Bahamas in which numerous Junkanoo groups, also called troupes, parade on December 26th and January 1st in colorful handcrafted crepe paper costumes made of wood, cardboard and sometimes glued to their clothes.
"They were fascinated with the Junkanoo Festival after seeing pictures from a festival attended by Glenn and Nancy Windham. They knew they had to find a few good Junkanoo candidates which wasn’t hard to do. They were able to recruit Lorraine Brown, Jim Rigby, Jeff Goudey, Ron Magee, Dee Hinote, Kim Lobue and Les & Lynn Cieutat and Dee Riley, thus the Krewe of Junkanoo was born...
"Becoming a Junkanoo is fairly easy; we are currently a krewe of 20 members. The first and foremost requirement is membership in the Krewe of Wrecks, after that all you need is the ability to party really hard and smile a lot. Frowning will get you booted without a warning or even a farewell.
"We are a co-ed Krewe and are always on the lookout for prospective new Junkanoo recruits. We are a Krewe who supports community causes like the Waterfront Rescue Mission, Toys for Tots, Good Samaritan Clinic as well as provided relief to Pearlington, MS after Hurricane Katrina. We sponsor an annual Oktoberfest and our annual Cajun Boil where we name our King and Queen for the upcoming Mardi Gras year, as well as our annual Kritter Krawl, which benefits the Humane Society, at the Pavilion on Pensacola Beach.
"Things are always exciting with the Junkanoos and one main thing still holds true with the Pensacola Beach Krewe of Junkanoo and that is we will continue to take Mardi Gras celebrating to a new wild party level each year!"