President of the National Carnival Bandleaders’ Association (NCBA) David Lopez maintained yesterday, “in any competition rules have to be followed”.
He made the comment during the Republic Bank Kiddies Parade at Adam Smith Square in Woodbrook.
He was referring to the disagreement about the parade route for children’s mas which has resulted in young masqueraders either starting from downtown Port of Spain or Adam Smith Square.
Lopez said it cost about $3.5 million, including prizes, to stage the NCBA event. It is held in conjunction with National Carnival Commission (NCC) and the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism.
About 105 kiddies bands have registered to play mas with the NCBA.
On Friday, Lopez said bands which did not adhere to the alternative route will risk disqualification.
“It starts at Adam Smith Square, proceeds east along Ariapita Avenue, north on to Colville Street, across Tragarete Road into Cipriani Boulevard and along Queen’s Park West and into the Queen’s Park Savannah”, Lopez said. In response on Friday Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee said the junior masqueraders will be sticking to the established 35-year-old downtown route which had been approved by the acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
“Young masqueraders have become used to assembling at the bottom of St Vincent Street, heading east along South Quay and into the Queen’s Park Savannah”, said Tim Kee.
Asked if the bands will risk disqualification, Lopez, a Carnival administrator for 30 years, said: “NCBA rules. In any competition, there are rules and regulations. We registered the route with the police and authorities. If they chose to change...But the bands registered and signed to abide by the rules. NCBA has a responsibility to the children because they are the future. We can’t continue doing things the same way to get a different result. If you register for the NCBA, you have to automatically abide by the rules.”
Coupled with route issues, Lopez said he had to deal with “flip-flop police” and politicians with regard to the parade route.
He said: “We should not let politics interfere. I have seen politicians interfere before but never to this extent. I won’t be surprised if I get a call from the acting Prime Minister (Errol Mc Leod) telling me to do it this way.”
Asked about Tim Kee’s view that children were experiencing major discomfort because of lack of shade provided by downtown’s tall buildings, he said: “I am not prepared to comment on that.”
Pressed further, he said: “We are asking for an extension of the parade route. We all know it has outgrown Port of Spain. The NCBA needs to reform. We are not against change. NCBA plans to go back into the communities and the schools to assist the children with their mas.”
Lopez said the first band crossed at 7.45 a.m. yesterday. “Adam Smith Square has a natural ambience and promotes a spirit of family and togetherness. We have $3.5 million and the prize structure is included. We want to thank Republic Band for coming on board. So far (by midday) we have seen 70 bands cross the Savannah. The parade went very smooth.”
Asked about the dichotomy between kiddies mas at Adam Smith and South Quay, Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas said yesterday: “ Trinidad and Tobago is the land of Carnival. Before it ends, we would have had 54 Carnivals in one small country. What is wrong if we have mas in South Quay and mas in Adam Smith Square? After all it is the land of Carnival.”
Douglas and NCC chairman Allison Demas were at the Savannah yesterday.
Douglas added: “The problem with the route has to be solved by the masqueraders and the stakeholders. We are hoping we can conclude that persistent problem for 2014. We will be meeting right after Carnival, so we can decide upon the route early for 2015.”
Asked how Carnival was unfolding, Douglas said: “I think Carnival is going well. The ministry is hoping it will go forward without much problems. The shows are doing well. We have visitors from France who are recording it. We have celebrities who were in the VIP section at Soca Monarch. Of course, there will be some challenges internally. I think we can all come together and make it the greatest show on earth.”
Seemingly oblivious to the controversy over their venue, throngs of junior masqueraders jumped and pranced under glorious sunshine yesterday. They moved past a small audience in the stands. Masqueraders ranged from babies in arms to adolescents.
Mark Ayen, manager for Colour Me Carnival said: “We used a paint chart to design the band. We had colours like evergreen, ebony, candy pink, Trinidad red and golden brown. We have 14 sections. They are moving fast.”
The children danced along merrily to songs like Farmer Nappy’s “Big People Party”.