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Poor planning taints biggest south J’Ouvert
Masqueraders dispensed lots of water and powder as they surged through the streets of San Fernando yesterday, as J’Ouvert celebrations drew one of the largest crowds in years. Drawing on 2013 joint International Soca Monarch Austin “SuperBlue” Lyons’ opening line in his Fantastic Friday soca ditty, almost all the bands crossing the National Academy for the Performing Arts judging point featured water and powder in their presentations.
The song turned yesterday into a “fantastic” Monday and was the most played track, with Groovy Soca Monarch winner Machel Montano’s Fog coming in second. Montano’s Float was also popular yesterday.
Continuing his musical resurrection, several bands paid tribute to SuperBlue. The chant “Super, Super” was heard by judges as each band passed.
Thousands of Carnival lovers came out in fishnet stockings, bikinis and short pants, and some even sported underwear as they flocked into the city from as early as 3 am. Once again, however, the celebrations started later than the 4 am scheduled time, with the first band reaching the judging point two hours later.
This year’s celebrations saw an additional 11 new bands entering the competition, while veteran masmen boasted of increases in membership. Many of them attributed the rise to south Trinidad residents opting to play mas in San Fernando rather than Port-of-Spain.
D’ Image People J’Ouvert band, which had an estimated 3,000 members in 2012, exceeded that figure by over 1,000 with the satirical portrayal of the movie Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone.
The first band, Shut Up and Wine, set the trend for the morning with an enticing presentation of the “Strawberry Sexperience” when they entered in spectacular fashion, running into the judging area through a cloud of fog created by talcum powder. While bouncing around to SuperBlue’s song, revellers were then drenched with water from a water tender, creating a “wet fete” on the road.
Jama Productions brought theatre to Carnival Monday with its presentation of Chinee. Sporting traditional Chinese attire, cheongsams and hanfus, Chinese umbrellas and fans, the band brought innovation to the annual show.
Another feature was that bands incorporated elements of traditional mas, conventional mas, traditional Indian mas and Phagwa into their presentations. Bands used feathers, abir and picong-filled placards.
Even the famed Calcutta Ship sailed along the Rienzi Kirton Highway.
Despite a good competition, J’Ouvert was tainted by poor planning, as there was a lack of portable toilets available to masqueraders and spectators. Those who tried to use the two portable toilets at Napa were turned back, forcing them to use some innovative and unconventional ways to relieve themselves.
Masqueraders also had to scamper off the Rienzi Kirton Highway and Independence Avenue, as there was constant vehicular traffic. Some drivers sped along the road although it was crowded with masqueraders.
Spectators were also left to sit and stand on the roadside as bleachers were not provided at the judging points.