It isn't every day that "When the Saints Come Marching In" is played to a Latin rhythm, but the crowd at the fourth annual Caribbeana Arts Festival yesterday quickly picked up the beat and danced the samba in the sweltering heat.
Another favorite was "Ya No Camino Mas" (I Won't Walk Anymore), which at times seemed to be the mindset of many who tried to wade through the crowd to get close to the bandstand, but found it an almost impossible task.
Debbie Kendall of Washington gave up and retreated to the fringes of the crowd behind the band. "This is the best place to listen to the music," she said. "Besides, I don't think anyone could walk through that crowd."
Festival organizers estimated that 7,000 to 10,000 people attended this year's festival, which was held at 21st and R streets NW. It is sponsored each year by the Fondo Del Sol Gallery and Caribbeana WPFW radio station.
While some participants danced to calypso, reggae and Latin music, others sampled black-eyed peas, curried chicken, stir-fried vegetables and Jamaican beef patties.
Jamaican Ambassador Keith Johnson was there for the third year. "I think it is an excellent way of communicating," Johnson said of the festival. "It serves as a way of enhancing harmony and is a good vehicle for our work towards peace."
Frances Renz of Wheaton didn't mind the 90-degree heat as she stood in line for chicken and rice. "I just got here," said Renz. "I think the music sounds fabulous."
Not everyone was as enthusiastic. Some grumbled that the festival was too small and there were no carnival costumes, as advertised.
"There's just not much to do," said Larry Masat of Fairfax, who stood eating Jamaican food with his wife, Shirley.
"The crowd is nice," added Shirley Masat, "especially after you've experienced the crowd on the Mall on July 4th."