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(Photos) Funeral and Rush-out for Winston 'Gus' Cooper
Jan 13, 2014 - 12:27:36 AM

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Photos: Bahamas Information Services

Nassau, Bahamas  - Winston 'Gus' Cooper, the founding member of the Valley Boys Junkanoo was remembered this past weekend with a memorial service at Rawson Square, followed by a Junkanoo Rush Out led by the Valley Boys on January 11th, 2014. Mr Cooper, who passed away on January 4th was also known for his contributions to Bahamian and regional Track & Field.

"For 55 years Mr. Cooper led our group. We will forever remember his teachings, his meticulous persistent detailed nature, his stern stance and his continuous 'pursuit of excellence'!" said the Valley Boys Facebook page.

"In 1958, a visionary in the form of Winston 'Gus' Cooper formed a Junkanoo group along with friends from the Centreville area of New Providence, all mere teenagers at the time.  Ms. Gwen Fountain, mother of one of the members was employed with Malcolm’s Garage and obtained sponsorship for the small group in the amount of fifteen pounds for the Boxing Day parade.  The group received a consolation prize.

In 1959, Gus’s recruitment efforts continued and he attracted Doyle Burrows and Edward Fritzgerald two personalities who contributed significantly to the group’s initial stability and growth.  In fact Doyle’s brother Deyanza, gave the group its name The Valley Boys, as the area from which the group originated was “a valley” between three hills, Centreville, Hawkins and Sears Addition hills.

The structure was established for The Valley Boys and at the Boxing Day 1960 parade; the group got its first taste of many victories with its theme Scottish Highlanders.  With this victory, the group had changed the face of Junkanoo forever by cementing in the minds of competitors and judges alike the theme concept in Junkanoo, the artistic nature of crepe paper, and dance and performance movements, never before witnessed on the parade route.
The leader from inception, some 50 years ago, Vincent Gus Cooper, was a Junkanoo pioneer. He was a young man, who using the technical skills attained in college abroad, shaped the art of Junkanoo and steered it's evolution into the collaborative colorific kaleidoscope of originally engineered costuming and the harmonious, pulsating percussion band, that we enjoy today. The Valley Boys, under his astute leadership, holds the record for the most wins. The group set the pace; introducing innovations in costume, music and performance many of which are still being used in Junkanoo today. Their costuming consistently hit new levels; dominating the field with new engineering and finishing, ensuring not only better carriage, but the "WOW" factor continuously. 

Photos: Bahamas Information Services

The Valley Boys name is synonymous with parade music. The organization's management nurtured this section, resulting in the development of a body of talent unrivaled by other Junkanoo groups. The Valley Boys dominated with another first, Female Dancers. Mr. Cooper's support of the idea of trained dancers performing synchronized, yet themed routines, which helped the group depict each parade theme; lead to champion choreography sections with numerous victories over the past half century.

Under Mr. Cooper's leadership the Valley Boys, from inception until now, 2014 Boxing Day Champions, dominate the Junkanoo world. He contributed to the continued growth of the art form on governmental committees and leader organizations, endeavoring to make Junkanoo the official cultural identifier for the country. His love for this cultural expression has been documented and he worked with youth, educating, mentoring and guiding them in people management and Junkanoo skills. His dream was that Junkanoo would flourish forever." 

Photos: Bahamas Information Services

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