Penal resident Seema Moonilal, 22, has captured this year’s Divali Queen competition.
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Another junior mas shifted
A decision by the National Carnival Commission to move tomorrow’s annual regional children’s traditional mas parade away from downtown Port-of-Spain to the Queen’s Park Savannah is not sitting well with mayor Raymond Tim Kee.
This is the second major kiddies parade which has been shifted from the heart of the city and the T&T Guardian understands it is not sitting well with the mayor, who now believes it is part of a concerted effort to stifle junior mas from the downtown city streets. In fact, Tim Kee is expected to address the issue during a press conference today.
The kiddies parade is scheduled for 9 am at the Queen’s Park Savannah. It will start at Queen’s Park West, opposite White Hall and head east around the Savannah. The plan is for the bands to reach the Carnival Village inside the Savannah by 1 pm, with a one-hour show thereafter. However, apart from Tim Kee’s concern motorists are now worried about the major traffic pileup which may result, which will already be busy due to the last-minute Carnival preparations.
Speaking about the issue yesterday, however, NCC commissioner of regional carnival, Don Sylvester, said the route was changed due to safety issues. “The route was changed because over the past two years there were serious challenges with the parade going up Frederick Street. This was dangerous for children,” he said.
One-lane traffic on route
Sylvester said they have also taken the steps to alert the public to the activity and also have the full support of the police. “We have started advertisements to alert the public of the parade and traffic adjustments. The police is co-operating with us and is coning off one lane around the Savannah to allow the free flow of traffic. The traffic police have everything under control.” He added, however, that the route change was an attempt by the NCC to return the mas to its roots.
“Many years ago, if you go into the archives, mas was played around the Savannah, on the inside lane, while tram cars ran on the outside. “It’s a two-pronged reason for having the parade this way this year. One, we are trying to bring back the family aspect to Carnival events and two, we are being nostalgic, doing something that was there from the beginning. Very importantly, we must also consider as well the safety of the little children.”
Giving the new parade route her blessings, NCC chairman Allison Demas said they also decided to facilitate the National Carnival Bands Association’s staging of the senior King and Queen finals later in the day. “This move is also to accommodate the NCBA with the staging of its Big Friday (King and Queen of Carnival finals) that same evening. Last year, because of the parade, we did not give them enough time to prepare for that production.”
But deputy Port-of-Spain Mayor Kerron Valentine yesterday voiced his concern about the removal of the parade from the inner city, especially in light of the fact that last weekend’s Junior King, Queens and Individuals’ preliminaries was also shifted from its traditional downtown route start to Adam Smith Square. He added: “I am really concerned by this and other developments in this year’s Carnival.
“Kiddies mas is already being moved to Adam Smith Square. There seems to be a clear and deliberate attempt to move Carnival out of the city centre. “Meetings have been held with special interest groups but everyone seems to have their own agenda. The Downtown Carnival Committee (DCC) did not have challenges like this during the 2011-13 term.”
Demas, however, refuted Valentine’s claims, saying: “There is definitely no clandestine move to take Carnival out of the city centre. Look at Canboulay and the Dragon Festival. Those events are still being held in the city centre.”