The traditional downtown route for tomorrow’s Junior Carnival Parade will remain in place, Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee announced yesterday.
The National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) had announced its intention to move the Junior Carnival Parade away from downtown Port of Spain to the Queen’s Park Savannah earlier this week.
However, speaking to the media following the City Corporation’s weekly statutory meeting at City Hall, Port of Spain, Tim Kee said, “Children’s Carnival will remain downtown. Our corporation has already obtained permission from police and has consummated an arrangement, for Children’s Carnival to proceed North along Frederick Street commencing from South Quay. The same route that was used before, there is one adjustment instead of veering off to get to Charlotte Street which was done to accommodate what was perceived to have been a security risk, passing by the jail, is no longer an issue because the security agencies inclusive of the police and army and the tactical squads and the Prison Service have all agreed that is not a risk, it does not pose any threat to security.
“Masqueraders and all the people who walk the street on Carnival, it is a free flow there is no veering off or detour straight up Frederick Street, they are protected by the buildings that keep the breeze out which is not the issue on Ariapita Avenue,” he said.
He said, the decision not to allow Junior Carnival downtown stemmed from a situation between the City Corporation and the NCBA that was personal and pregnant with ego.
“I am also informed by another entity who controls most of the children’s bands that almost 75 per cent of their membership has already signed onto using the Frederick Street route. And that was up to last night, and I am told increasing,” he added.
Speaking on the security aspect of the parade Tim Kee said, “We have already consummated that agreement with the police on manning Frederick Street straight north.”
He said, the City Corporation had also offered the services of their police to ensure that the children and the bands that use this route are well protected. There will be a lot of plain clothes police among the crowds along with the uniformed police. I have no qualms about the masqueraders and spectators.
Councillor Wendell Stephens explained that downtown is also a judging point.
“Downtown is a judging point, it is not just the start of a parade to get to the Savannah you are judged downtown and then you proceed north on Frederick Street, where you can enter the Savannah to the other competition, where you will also be judged.
“So we are inviting all the bands who feel that their children will be put at risk on the Avenue that they can in fact start the parade downtown as they have done for the last 35 years,” he said.
Tim Kee added that although he has no control over the adult mas bands passing through Woodbrook he and his entire council would lend moral support to the residents of that area on any legal action they decide to take.
“Because I sympathise with them and what they have to endure. There must be empathy for those who can’t help themselves,” he said.
Stephens said there is the possibility that some bands will start at Adams Smith Square but the majority of the bands have indicated that they will start downtown.
Asked if the bands could be penalised for starting downtown Tim Kee said, he does not know that the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) has the authority to tell any band where they can or cannot start.
“Any band can start at any point so long as it is part of the predetermined route and if that agency does that and the Government did not get involved and say listen that money is not yours the money belongs to the country you are left to facilitate mas but you are not owner of those funds,” he said.
Tim Kee said there are plans to begin discussions for Carnival 2015 on Ash Wednesday and he believes there should be one route so that there is no argument for what the route should be in the future.