The streets of downtown Port of Spain came alive yesterday morning to the sounds of soca music and colourfully adorned junior masqueraders prancing in the streets of the nation’s capital, as several Carnival bands opted to take the traditional downtown route for the Republic Bank Junior Parade of the Bands.
The move was in direct opposition to the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) president David Lopez’s threat to disqualify those bands who chose not to start the parade at Adam Smith Square — the NCBA’s new route.
On Friday, during a news conference Lopez insisted all bands must start at Adam Smith Square, and then move on to the Queen’s Park Savannah. Woodbrook residents who have been against this new route for the Junior masqueraders circulated a petition opposing the new route which they said would be unfair to children coming from outside of Port of Spain.
There was a steady flow of mas as the children seemingly oblivious to the controversy brewing over their appearance downtown joyfully paraded before the judges there.
Speaking with the Sunday Express yesterday during the junior parade of the bands at South Quay, Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee said: “So far I am quite satisfied with what I have seen. I have seen some beautiful portrayals and I am looking forward to seeing more based on the figures that were given to me by the band leaders. They said I should expect over 75 per cent of the full complement of bands.”
Tim Kee also praised children’s bandleader Rosalind Gabriel for her decision to start at the downtown judging point.
“She is a smart woman, a caring woman and she is very much into our culture and I get the impression that she has chosen the venue that is most appropriate to demonstrate her beliefs and thinking,” he said.
Asked about a bit of a late start to the parade downtown, Tim Kee said it may have been because many bands from the “far flung areas” chose to stay away because of the confusion over the route.
“So at the end of the day the children lose the most and I hope next year things will be a lot different,” he added.
Gabriel who spoke with the Sunday Express briefly said:
“We bandleaders who are here disagree with the Woodbrook route so we are going with the traditional and we support the fact that Port of Spain is the mecca of mas, you can’t take mas out of Port of Spain. I can’t say for sure but I expect about 30 to 40 bands to use the traditional route to the Savannah.”