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READY FOR THE ROAD

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

LOOK how the sun now raising up.

The two days of street revelry known as Trinidad and Tobago Carnival officially begin at dawn with Jouvert, where revellers doused in oil, mud, paint and liquid chocolate will take to the streets signalling the reign of the Merry Monarch.

The path to the road this year has been a memorable one.

The monarchs have all be crowned.

After a 13-year hiatus, Raymond Ramnarine, leader of the band Dil-e-Nadan, returned to the Chutney Soca Monarch competition and walked away with the $1 million prize.

Ramnarine secured his first ever win in the competition with his song "I ain't marriding no more".

The Chutney Soca Monarch competition returned to its Skinner Park, San Fernando home this year after a move to the Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain last year.

The second of the prestigious titles to be awarded this year was the Calypso Monarch.

This year's Carnival saw the introduction of a new-look Dimanche Gras show sans competition.

As a result of this inclusion the Calypso Monarch competition was held on Carnival Thursday and not its traditional Carnival Sunday date.

Eric "Pink Panther" Taylor, a veteran calypsonian in his own right, captured his first Calypso Monarch title this year with his songs "Travel Woes" and "Crying in the Chapel".

Then came Carnival Friday, both big and fantastic.

The Kings and Queens of Carnival competition which also had its traditional date change as a result of the Dimanche Gras shake-up, took place on Carnival Friday.

Charrisse Bovell claimed her second successive Queen of Carnival title with her portrayal "Rakuen No Yorokobi (The Joy Of Paradise)".

The King of Carnival competition ended with the judges unable to separate Gerard Weekes and Ted Eustace.

Weekes' portrayal "Ai To Yujo No Yorokobi (The Joy Of Friendship)" and Eustace's portrayal "Moko in Flames" both earned 438 points.

Weekes and Bovell are the king and queen of Brian MacFarlane's presentation Joy: The Finale.

MacFarlane plans to quit the mas arena this year.

Machel Montano, still awaiting sentencing on five criminal charges, managed to brush aside all his troubles and "fog up" the Groovy Soca Monarch competition.

Montano secured his second successive Groovy Soca Monarch title with his song "The Fog".

Then came the clash of the soca titans.

After more than a decade away from competition six-time Soca Monarch Austin "SuperBlue" Lyons returned to the fray.

Montano was in search of a third successive Power Soca Monarch victory.

After the powder settled, the battle ended in a hotly-contested tie between Lyons and Montano.

Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove ended Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars' two-year reign as national pan champions when they captured the 2013 National Steelband Panorama title at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Saturday.

The new-look Dimanche Gras show would have ended by the time you read this.

"I AM Carnival" produced by Unlimited Functions was scheduled to last three hours maximum as attempts are being made to better market Carnival as an international product.

All rooms in major hotels were booked.

State-owned carrier Caribbean Airlines announced fully-booked flights.

Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz estimated tourist arrivals for this year's Carnival to be around 60,000.

The official Carnival parade route remains "more or less" the same. Today, revellers will parade the streets, not in full costume saving the glitter and glam for tomorrow.

"Bands will proceed south on St Vincent Street and north on Charlotte Street," National Carnival Commission chairman Allison Demas has said.

"The area from Keate Street to the track of the Queen's Park Savannah will be a sterile area, for costumed masqueraders only," she said.

A fence has been constructed on the northern side of the entrance to the stage to help the process.

"This measure is in an effort to reduce congestion at the entrance to the Savannah Stage. Authorised Savannah vendors and spectators will be accommodated in designated areas," Demas said.

There will also be celebrations in San Fernando, and in communities across the island such as Arima, Sangre Grande, Arouca, Chaguanas, Couva, Point Fortin and also over in Tobago.

A deputy police commissioner has said that officers are up to the task of policing this year's festivities.

Searches will be made of people entering the capital city through the main transportation hub City Gate.

So if you waited whole year for this, spread your hands and let go because the stage is set.

Let the bouncing begin.

We ready for the road.

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