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Carnival Will Close Out With Parade In Sun Life Stadium On Sunday

Credit Karen Rundlet
Giselle Blanche is working late nights until Carnival morning to finish up the costumes. She is one part seamstress, one part promoter and one part singer. Blanche, known on the circuit as the Wassi One, gives us a taste and a feel for the upcoming celebration which is a combination of party and theatre.

The walk up of parties for the Miami Broward Carnival weekend has officially begun.

Still, the big parade at Sun Life Stadium with all the bands isn’t until Sunday and that means plenty of people are still hustling on the last minute preps, such as finishing the bright shiny costumes. 

Inside one garage in Miramar the sewing crew hums to soca beats as they glue yet another rhinestone onto another skirt of a Carnival costume. Music plays from the computer.

Giselle Blanche is known on the Caribbean Carnival circuit as the Wassi One. “Wassi” is a Trinidadian slang word that means “fun loving.” There is no room for cars in her garage.

But Blanche is more than just costume designer and seamstress. She’s a promoter and a performer, having been at this Carnival thing for decades. Right now though, Blanche is all about the costumes. 

Carnival is a high-energy party but it’s also theater and costumes can make a show pop. There are Carnivals all over the world. England’s is in Notting Hill, Canada hosts one in Quebec, and Carnival is even celebrated in several towns in Belgium.

The Wassi One shows off her themed collection.

“This is my 2013 presentation from Miami Broward One Carnival of Dare,” said Blanche, pointing to her work. “So you see the colors here, the kind of African theme to it. This is our Dare to be proud. This is our Dare to be exotic.”

The Wassi One’s mother, Maureen Blanche, sits to the side, armed with a glue gun and containers of baubles. Creating the costumes is a family business and a family pleasure. Home is Trinidad & Tobago, twin islands that lie a stone’s throw from Venezuela. 

While Miami Broward Carnival draws visitors from all the islands and all over the U.S., Trinidad was the first Caribbean island to host it. Trinidad is so serious about Carnival, they start planning it a year in advance and is known as one of the best carnivals on the planet.

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Karen Rundlet worked as television news producer for a long, long time in cities like Atlanta, New York, and Miami. Not once during that period did she ever say words like "action" or "cut." Seven years ago, she joined The Miami Herald's newsroom as a Multimedia Manager. She built the company a Video Studio, where sports segments, celebrity reports, and interviews with heads of state have been shot and produced. In 2010, she also began producing a business segment for WLRN/Miami Herald News radio and writing business articles for www.MiamiHerald.com. Karen calls herself "a Miami girl with Jamaican roots," (practically a native) having lived in the city long enough to remember when no one went to South Beach. She spends her weekends with an Arsenal Football loving husband and a young daughter who avoids skirts that aren't "twirly enough."