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Holly B...an icon at Christmas
Years ago at Christmas, one face and voice you were bound to see and hear when you turned on the television was that of Holly B. Some 40 years of televised Christmas entertainment has passed, and now at age 85, Uncle Holly vows that he’ll continue to do what he does best, till the day he dies.
40 years of the Band Wagon
In a brief chat with the T&T Guardian, Holly Betaudier revealed that the Holly B Parang Bandwagon, as it had been called since its inception, continued in Arima. “We opened at the start of the Christmas season at Hollis Avenue on the Greens,” he informed. He noted that Deputy Mayor of Arima, Cedeno Metivier, and the former MP for the borough, Penelope Beckles, along with the newly appointed MP, Rodger Samuel, were all in attendance. Holly however lamented that unlike years gone by, the task of getting television stations on board for programming was a difficult one.
“While the technology is getting better, the barriers are getting higher,” he said. Nevertheless, the iconic Christmas host indicated that his love for the season would propel him to continue on his journey. Over the past 40 years, Holly B has staged and hosted the likes of parang queen Daisy Voisin, and her La Divina Pastora Serenaders, Carib Santa Rosa parang side of Arima, San Jose Serenaders of St Joseph, and countless others. Now in 2010, as the island grapples with a crime situation that is spiraling out of control, Holly B took the opportunity to beg the criminals to stop. “Think of God and ease up the pressure,” he stated.
Real Christmas in Arima
For the past ten years, Holly B and his wife have been living in Glencoe, in West Trinidad. However, he said they would be traveling to Arima to spend Christmas. “Christmas is more formal in Port-of-Spain,” he said, when asked of the difference between areas. “I moved to Port-of-Spain because there were no television stations in Arima. In Arima, even in the middle of the night at Christmas, paranderros would come and bring a serenal,” he said.
Holly highlighted that four of his five children lived overseas, and this year one of his daughters would be returning to spend the season with him and his wife. “Christmas of today misses camaraderie. It comes as a result of a fear of criminal activities. We’re not free and simple as we used to be. Unfortunately there’s a rogue element in the society which makes one a little more careful and we’re not as free as we used to be, which is unfortunate,” he reiterated.
Credit to Holly Junior
On the issue of his ongoing Christmas Band Wagon, the hearty Christmas soul said his son must be credited for even his success over the years. “Holly Junior has and continues to assist me with the show. He will take on the mantle. I owe my success to him as he has dealt with all of the difficulties of putting on the show, year after year.” In Holly’s household, the season is marked with cleaning, putting up the Christmas tree, and laying gifts beneath it. Holly B however understands the true significance of the season and had this to say. “Christmas greetings to all and sundry in T&T, especially the unfortunate, the sick and the less privileged people. Christmas as it used to be, is still for you. I wish you all peace, joy and good will.”
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