WHERE else can you find hibiscus flowers, native Americans, matadors, sailors, moko jumbies and crabs sharing the same stage? At the Carnival 2013 Junior Kings and Queens preliminaries of course. There was no shortage of creativity and imagination as the masqueraders took the stage one after the next. The pan was one of the most common themes depicted in several costumes.
Immediately after the event started promptly at nine yesterday morning, the Adam Smith Square in Port of Spain became alive and was awash with colour, from the brightest pinks to the deepest reds with the occasional splashes of metallic gold and silver. The participants ranged from the youngest — toddlers sucking pacifiers and donning pampers beneath their costumes, to young teenagers. As the hours passed, the costumes went from small and simple to large and ornate while SuperBlue's "Fantastic Friday" and Machel Montano's "Float" were in heavy rotation.
Although there was a constant steady stream of spectators, mostly parents and older ones with young children in tow, some bandleaders complained that the crowd turn-out was not as expected. Bandleader Cheryl Cain sacrificed hours of sleep the night before the prelims as she hurried to put the finishing touches on costumes. She had hoped to see more in attendance.
"We spent five months preparing, I'm happy that everything went well. But the crowd is too small," said Cain. Another bandleader Angelee Barkarr of the Boissiere Village Children's Band said the venue was normally jam-packed in previous years. She suspected that poor advertising could have contributed to the low turn-out at the event. After midday the crowds in the stand began to thin out as many, including the masqueraders, tired from the heat of the day, chose to lay out on the grounds, taking bites from their snow cones while propping themselves against water coolers.
But the masqueraders, too busy trying to keep a smile on their faces under the heavy weight of the costumes while attempting to navigate themselves across the stage, didn't seem to notice. And the crowd showed their appreciation for the masqueraders. Reigning Junior Queen Nikkita Katwaroo didn't disappoint, as soon as she stepped on stage she received a rapturous applause from the audience. Katwaroo represented a butterfly resting on a large red hibiscus flower. Her face was painted gold to match her large gold head-dress, at the top of her routine, Katwaroo released red confetti before the panel of judges.
"You know we are the reigning junior queen so this year we had to come bigger,"said bandleader Franklyn Jagdeo. Jagdeo's band presentation 'Sweet TnT 'My Country'' was among the crowd's favourites.
Mckenzie Penco who masqueraded Rosalind Gabriel's creation 'Moon Glow' was also a crowd pleaser, thrilling the audience early on in the competition. But the kings were not to be left out. Jardel Aguillera was a stand-out as he donned a shimmering metallic silver head covering as he portrayed the man of steel while Bradley Rambhorose's 'Celebration of the Pan' was a hit among the crowds, the silver, red and black metallic colours of his costume leapt out under the blazing sun. After parading in Woodbrook, the young masqueraders headed for the annual kiddies parade at St James.
Out of all the competitors, 15 Kings and 15 Queens will advance to the Junior Kings and Queens Finals on Big Friday.