It’s Carnival Tuesday, just about 1 p.m., and my son and I are watching one of the larger bands go by when he turns to me and says, “Mom, this Carnival is a fail!” Surprised that my 14-year-old would say something like this, I asked him to explain. What he said really made me reflect on what Carnival has become.
He was correct. Carnival is now boring for a non-masquerader. Some years ago, we all looked forward to the mad excitement of this festival. Cooking the pelau, organising the cooler, packing the car, telling your costumed friends where to meet you, looking to take a little “jump” with friends, etc, all added to the excitement of the days.
Now, you can’t park anywhere in Woodbrook without fear of the wrecker. You don’t want to go to the Queen’s Park Savannah because you don’t want the hassle of traffic. You can’t jump with friends in costume as the “extraction crews” in the bands will hurl you out. You can’t get in the band because they are all now roped off and bordered by security. You can’t hang out with friends at the rest spots because that is also bordered by security.
You now stand quietly and watch the bands go by because you are afraid to “bounce” anyone, for fear they may pull a knife. You also want to get out of the area before it gets dark, for fear of being robbed. To top it all off, the vulgarity of the women makes one look away with shame and embarrassment. The world is watching. Have some self-respect.
Friends were leaving their bands by 2 p.m. on Carnival Tuesday because they just couldn’t go anymore. Huh? Yes, they were up at 4 a.m. to get ready and to try to find a secure “park” because the band was leaving between 6 to 6.30 a.m. Can you imagine keep up that energy up all day?
Being a Carnival spectator has now become a hassle. It is not worth the stress of trying to find a secure parking spot to stand quietly and look on. This year, the roads were empty of spectators. No wonder the vendors were complaining—there was no one there to buy.
However, beaches were packed to capacity, all beach houses were booked and even Tobago was full of people trying to get away. How can I now encourage my foreign friends to come to the greatest Carnival in the world to just stand and watch?
Carnival is evolving and the Carnival planners are thinking a little more ahead. The band leaders are going above and beyond for their masqueraders, hence the extremely high prices of costumes. National Security went above and beyond to ensure the safety of the people. We all thank you.
Now, it’s time for someone to think of the spectator and how to enhance their viewing enjoyment. The Socadrome could be good. I would have attended as a spectator if I had known I could have parked inside the stadium, paid a small fee of $25 and with concession stands in the stadium all open. But I only found out on Ash Wednesday.
Here’s a suggestion: why not have Socadromes all around Port of Spain, with facilities modelled after Tribe’s rest stop at Jackson Square. If that ever comes to fruition, my entire family and I will be there, but until then, I am on the hunt for a beach house for next year.