David Lopez, president of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) of Trinidad and Tobago, says the children’s bands risk disqualification if they parade along the 35-year-old traditional route.
This starts at South Quay, heads north along Broadway into Frederick Street, and, into the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain. He made this statement at a news conference yesterday at the NCBA’s headquarters, Picton Street, Newtown, Port of Spain.
In an immediate response, Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee said only acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams can determine the parade route. He also said the focus should be on the children’s happiness and convenience.
He said throngs of children entering from City Gate at South Quay have to be bused to Adam Smith Square, Woodbrook.
At Adam Smith Square, the junior masqueraders also had to contend with strong winds catapulting their headpieces and lack of shade from tall buildings.
Registering his angst, Tim Kee said only Williams can determine the parade route.
He said, “It is most ridiculous. I don’t know he can disqualify bands especially when the route has been approved. There is no illegal route. Lopez has no right to the route. That route has been used for the past 35 years. Only the Commissioner of Police can do that. I don’t know he is the commissioner.
Tim Kee added: “I know Carnival bands can enter the Savannah from different points. The last entry is at the top of the Memorial Park. The bands approach from different points. Nothing precludes a band from going clockwise. He is trying to be malicious. He wants to be wicked. He cannot make up all sorts of rules as though he was the custodian of the monies. It borders on insanity. The money is to facilitate children’s Carnival.”
Tim Kee said the route was extremely convenient for children who disembark at City Gate since they have to “walk a few metres to join their band”.
Comparing the established route to NCBA’s alternative route, Tim Kee said: “The Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) has agreed to take them to Adam Smith Square. You have to disembark into different vehicles to get to there. They believe all those bands will be able to assemble in their various sections.
“Adam Smith Square is already populated with tents and equipment. A lot of the area has already been taken up. The other concern is where are these buses going to park and stop for the children to disembark.”
Aided by National Carnival Commission (NCC), PTSC chairman Vincent Lasse had implemented a shuttle service which starts from 7.30 a.m. to 10 a.m. which will run from City Gate into Carlos Street, Woodbrook, from 7.30 am to 10 am.
Tim Kee also said wind was a deterrent since it kept whisking off the children’s headpieces. He added: “Those children are carrying headpieces. The size poses a real challenge. Their focus will not be playing mas. They will be preoccupied with keeping their headpieces together. Of course, they will be assisted by parents and adults.”
Tim Kee said: “On Frederick Street, there are tall buildings which will deflect the breeze. The buildings will shade the children from the sun. It begs the question: “For whom is it intended? Does he care about the children? Does Lopez feel he can do what he wants? Everybody must stay quiet and say nothing. I forcefully resist.”
Tim Kee said keeping Carnival in the city was a short-term deterrent to criminal activity. It provided an economic opportunity for vendors who sell party favours, food and drinks.
He said: “Port of Spain is the mecca for Carnival. There is a concentration of people from Port of Spain and environs who take part in it. People seize the opportunity to vend. To deprive those people of a chance to make some seasonal income is callous and insensitive. People come all around the world to lime, ole talk and share love.
Tim Kee added: “The place is cool and they can relax. What part of Ariapita Avenue offers that kind of ambience? It is a disadvantage for the precious children. Children look forward to performing for adults. Where is the motivation and enthusiasm for the children? I would like burgesses to enjoy the culture because it is part of their heritage. Instead of committing crime, they are happy to be part of the celebration.”
Via a telephone interview, Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas, who was shopping for Soca Monarch, said: “The NCBA is the institution. If Lopez makes decisions that are inconsistent with his membership then the body can remove him. I think NCBA has mas’ best interests at heart. If they think he is a problem, then, they have ways to deal with it. I will meet with the stakeholders right after Carnival to discuss Carnival 2015.”
35-year-old Kiddies Parade route
Today, the Junior masqueraders are expected to assemble at the bottom of St Vincent Street, Port of Spain. The parade proceeds East along South Quay, North along Broadway into Frederick Street and into the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain
NCBA proposed route
The NCBA route is proposing children muster at Adam Smith Square, proceed East along Ariapita Avenue, north onto Colville Street, straight across Tragarete Road into Cipriani Boulevard and east along Queen’s Park West and left into QPS.