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Junior mas finds rhythm after slow start

By Janelle de Souza Sunday, March 2 2014

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The Junior Parade of the Bands got off to a slow start yesterday at its new starting location at Adam Smith Square in Woodbrook but eventually found its rhythm.

The starting point and corresponding new route have been a bone of contention between the National Carnival Bands’ Association and some of the bandleaders who objected to moving the mas away from its traditional location in downtown Port-of-Spain.

Kiddies mas veteran Rosalind Gabriel stayed with the Downtown Junior Parade of the Bands competition hosted by the Port-of- Spain City Council rather than the NCBA/Republic band parade which began at Adam Smith Square and headed east on Ariapita Ave, north onto Colville St, across Tragarete Rd to Cipriani Boulevard, right onto Queen’s Park West, then to the top of Frederick St and to the Queen’s Park Savannah to cross the stage.

Some bandleaders decided to give the new route a chance.

Leader of the band Rejuvenation from Arima, Johanna Fullerton, told Sunday Newsday, “I want to see if the change would make a difference in a positive way. We are going to try it before we knock it.”

Fullerton said the only problem she had was that whole route was exposed to the sun with nowhere for shade. She said because of that most parents decided to meet the band near the Savannah to cross the stage instead of making the children walk the entire route.

Rose Mary Perkins, leader of the mini band, To Market To Market, approved of the new route saying that it “felt more comfortable” as the band came from St Ann’s.

Ruth Mendez, bandleader of Bois Canot Productions was extremely excited about the change. “The start was well organised and smooth, and we got onto the route easily. It was wonderful. I hope it would continue next year,” she exclaimed.

Mendez said she found the new route to be a shorter one for the children who, in previous years, would arrive on the Savannah stage exhausted. She said the roads were large, perfect for the music trucks to pass while allowing room for masqueraders and larger costumes.

Masqueraders did face some difficulty like the Bois Canot’s queen did with the heavy winds but Mendez said it was no more difficult than on the previous route.

The competition was scheduled to begin at 7am but did not get going until 7.45 am. At the time, masqueraders and their parents were still trickling in and eventually gathered in their bands along Carlos Street, Ariapita Ave, and in Adam Smith Square behind the stands, putting the finishing touches to their costumes.

NCBA’s Parade of the Bands Committee Chairman, Sam Lewis, confirmed that the competition was to begin at 7am but “we are dealing with children so it takes them a while to get organised.” However, he noted that the start of the Parade was smooth and that it was usual for the competition to start slowly and pick up a little later on.

This proved to be the case as by 9am, the pace had picked up significantly and there was a steady stream of bands. Also by 9am, spectators began filtering into the stands but most of them lined the route along Ariapita Ave and around the Savannah. And while there were concerns raised that older Woodbrook residents would be disturbed by the music trucks, many of the spectators viewing the children’s mas were older folk.

There were also a few stops allowing for vehicular traffic to pass, specifically on French Street and Stanmore Ave on Ariapita Ave, and at the corners of Cipriani Boulevard at Tragarete Road and at the Queen’s Park Savannah.

In addition, officials from City Gate reported no issues with the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) shuttle service for the children to be transported from City Gate to Adam Smith Square. They said it went off smoothly, was frequent and shuttled hundreds of children to Adam Smith Square.

See Pages 22A and 23A

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