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Show must go on

By JANELLE DE SOUZA Saturday, March 1 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Young girls take delight in dressing up as Dame Lorraines, a popular traditional Carnival character once portrayed by men, during a special parade at ...
Young girls take delight in dressing up as Dame Lorraines, a popular traditional Carnival character once portrayed by men, during a special parade at ...

CHILDREN are being caught in a mas row between the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) and Port-of-Spain City Council as yesterday both sides failed to agree to have a single parade for children’s mas.

The Downtown Junior Parade of Bands will remain separate from the Republic Bank/NCBA Junior Parade of Bands. However, despite the divide, children in both routes will cross the Big Stage today at Queen’s Park Savannah (QPS).

The Downtown Junior Parade begins at 8 am today, starting at South Quay, moving into Broadway, north on Frederick Street and then to the QPS . The Republic Bank Junior Parade however, begins an hour earlier at Adam Smith Square where bands would proceed east on Ariapita Ave, left onto Colville Street to Tragarete Road. They would then continue north along Cipriani Boulevard to Queen’s Park West, then to the top of Frederick St and to the QPS.

Keron Valentine, Deputy Mayor of PoS said the split was based on pre-Carnival discussions between the NCBA and the City Council, where the NCBA insisted on changing the route. He noted that previously, the Council would give prizes to participants of the NCBA competition and then hold its own competition on Carnival Sunday. However, when the NCBA decided to remove its competition from downtown, the City Council decided to have its own.

He said feedback from most of the band leaders indicated they were in favour of returning to the downtown route. The only negative aspect, he said, is that the public may be confused. “It is very unfortunate that both parties could not come to an amicable decision. However I am hopeful for next year. All systems and mechanisms have been put in place with respect to the safety and security of the young ones,” Valentine noted. During a press conference at the NCBA office yesterday, NCBA president David Lopez stated that more than one Junior Parade competition exists for Carnival and the NCBA could not dictate the competitions band leaders wish to register. However, he said, according to the competition rules, only the bands that parade along the NCBA route would be judged for the NCBA competition.

“They (band leaders) are registered for the NCBA competition and they all signed to abide by the rules and regulations that govern the NCBA competition,” he said. “We recognise there are some uncertainties and issues surrounding the start of the Junior Parade. I want to just make it quite clear, the Republic Bank/NCBA Junior Parade starts at Adam Smith Square and we would complete judging by 2.30 pm,” he said, noting they had to vacate the Savannah by 3 pm to make way for the Panorama final.

Lopez said this was not the first time the route or other aspects of the Junior Parade had been changed. He noted that arrangements are in place with the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) to provide a shuttle service from City Gate along Wrightson Road to the gathering point on Carlos Street between 7.30 am and 10 am. He also stated that on any parade route, masqueraders would face the wind at some point, so the route direction should not be a deterrent. In addition, he noted that the majority of places along the band’s route in Woodbrook were business places and so would not affect the residents much.

Veteran children’s mas designer Rosalind Gabriel did not take the matter of changing the route lightly. She said it was a disrespect to move children’s Parade of the Band from downtown and expects tremendous support by band leaders for the downtown parade, even under the threat of being disqualified from the NCBA competition.

“The Junior Parade is three and a half decades old. It started downtown as a PoS Corporation event, not by the NCBA. It was only years after that the NCBA got involved. We have traditions that you just do not interfere with. Disrespect is being shown to the venue, our traditions, the history and geography of Carnival and I will not be part of it,” she said.

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