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Tradition of downtown mas must be saved

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Downtown Port-of-Spain, with a scarcity of bands parading the streets and vendors left with their goods on hand, was not a very encouraging Carnival site on Tuesday. Even worse, it must have been quite a disappointment for the thousands of spectators who roam the streets, stand at corners awaiting sightings of bands. City mayor Raymond Tim Kee could not give this newspaper a reason why the bands stayed away from this second most important and usually quite heavily populated Carnival venue.


How to explain and if necessary correct this anomaly is one of the major issues for Carnival administrators, along with the bandleaders’ groups, to reflect upon to develop strategies to avoid a repeat in 2015. Old Port-of-Spain has been the cradle of mas-making and mas-playing stretching back to the start of what can be considered modern Carnival. To lose mas bands and eventually spectators coming into the city would be to ignore a great tradition.  


This does not, of course, mean there should not be change and dynamism in the mas, but the change must relate to and incorporate the traditional, including the parade grounds of the city. At the same time, one of the real achievements of this Carnival has been the keeping of the promise to spread a security blanket over the city. For yet another year the police and other security forces proved true to their word and kept the weapons out.


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