By CECILY ASSON Saturday, February 16 2013
click on pic to zoom in
LEAVING AS KING: Leroy Prieto, the 2013 San Fernando King of Carnival in his winning costume King Chakra....
DAYS after champion mas man Brian Mac Farlane called it quits after winning his seventh consecutive National Carnival Large Band of the Year, South Trinidad’s undisputed King of Carnival Leroy Prieto also bowed out of Carnival mas competition as the 2013 San Fernando King of Carnival.
Prieto leaves as a legend of South Trinidad and National Carnival having won eight South Carnival King titles and representing all of Southland in the National Finals at several Dimanche Gras shows. But to say that Prieto is done with Carnival, is wrong.
Prieto, of Dos Santos Street, Mon Repos said he will now focus his attention on helping, “to fix the wrongs in Carnival”, both in San Fernando and on a national scale.
“I intend to work with bandleaders like Rosalind Gabriel and others who are genuine about bringing a positive change to Carnival. Right now, I don’t like the direction of mas. There is too much politics and disunity in the fraternity,” Prieto said.
Focusing on San Fernando, Prieto said there is a “lack of love” among bandleaders. “I get love from just a few bandleaders in south. It is a fight down and I don’t think it’s worth it, so I better get out. Carnival should be about creativity and love...not war.”
Prieto said he would have retired after the 2012 season, but he was asked to play King for a band one last time.
“The Legall family and I go back a long way, so when I was asked to be the king of their band, I couldn’t say ‘no’.”
In the process, he copped his eighth King of the Band title in San Fernando with his portrayal of King Chakra from the band, Gems of the Chakras.
Admitting he will miss the stage, Prieto said all is not lost as he will be giving back to the mas fraternity once he’s called upon. “I am not a selfish person and will impart my knowledge to anyone who needs my help. This is about love,” he said.
Prieto has been playing mas since he was a school boy and told Newsday he has always designed and built his own costumes. He lived abroad for many years and it was in Miami where he really mastered his skills in building costumes. “All my designs, are inspired by God. I even sew everything for my costume. I used to live abroad and every year I would return home with my costume in a suitcase to play mas. I would beat my competitors and they labelled me the ‘suitcase king’,” she said.
“One thing they could not take away from me is my ability to play mas and dance in a costume,” he boasted.
For the past 15 years Prieto has stamped his brand of mas indelibly in the San Fernando Carnival scene and has also wowed masqueraders in Port-of-Spain. The greatest compliment his mas has received, Prieto said, were from the legends of mas themselves — Mac Farlane and Peter Minshall.
“To have these two men compliment your work (pauses to collect thoughts) it’s almost out of this world!” Prieto said. He praised his wife Winnifred, his children and his mas team of five for “the tremendous support” over the years. “Without my wife, my children and my crew...I’d be lost,” Prieto said.