THEY came from as far as Mayaro and Fyzabad and they came out in their thousands.
Bus and maxi taxi-loads of pupils from various schools across the country arrived in droves at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain to witness yesterday's swearing-in ceremony of President Anthony Carmona.
The steady flow of buses and maxis created a small traffic pile-up at the intersection of Wrightson Road and Audrey Jeffers Highway outside of the stadium for a brief period.
As they sat in the stands, several of the pupils and teachers expressed their satisfaction with the location chosen to have the ceremony.
"I feel great, because I have the chance to see the swearing-in of the new President. ... The location is good because I think the swearing-in of a new President is a big issue and that young people should have the opportunity to witness it," said one pupil.
The ceremony began promptly at 4.30 p.m. with the march of the Guard of Honour. Minutes later saw the arrival of former president George Maxwell Richards, followed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Both Richards and Persad-Bissessar were greeted with loud applause as they walked along the red carpet leading to the dais (platform) where Carmona was sworn in as Trinidad and Tobago's fifth President.
But the anxiety of the pupils was visibly growing as they anticipated Carmona's arrival.
At 5.02 p.m., president-elect Carmona was greeted with loud applause and shouts of approval as he arrived and made his way onto the red carpet.
As he waved to the crowd, out came the cellphones and cameras as pupils attempted to capture his image.
Not more than ten minutes later, Carmona took the oath of office.
This was followed by a handshake for Chief Justice Ivor Archie, a kiss on the cheek for the Prime Minister and a warm embrace for his wife, Reema Carmona.
The new President proceeded to inspect the Guard of Honour before an invocation by representatives of various religious bodies.
Also included in the ceremony was an hour-long cultural presentation.
By 6.30 p.m., many of those who had flocked to the stadium to witness the ceremony began leaving, even before Carmona made his inaugural speech shortly before 7 p.m.
Questioned as to why they were departing before the speech was made, several teachers said they wanted their pupils to listen to the speech, but their departure was a decision made in order to prevent becoming trapped in the traffic pile-up which they expected if everyone were to exit the stadium all at once.
See Pages 4 and 5