The new Carnival route caused discontentment and confusion with band leaders in San Fernando with one of the largest bands not crossing the judging point.
Kalicharan Carnival which has dominated the South Band of the Year title for many years bypassed the judging point on Harris Promenade and paraded down Chancery Lane onto High Street.
Aaron Kalicharan said they did not see the logic in lining up to cross the stage when the title this year would just be for bragging rights.
"We did not boycott the judging point. It is just the judging point is not a judging point. In the meeting, they said there is no competition. They say there is no band of the year, the band of the year is just bragging rights, so why should we stay for an hour lining up by the judging point and our masqueraders unhappy."
The band leader said they were told that each band that crosses the stage would receive a stipend. Kalicharan said there were three bands in front of them so they decided, rather than to park up for an hour on an incline and turn down the music because of the close proximity of the hospital, not to pass in front the judges.
"Without masqueraders, there is no mas so we have to make sure our masqueraders happy."
He said if there is no line up on Carnival Tuesday they will cross the judging point with their presentation Addictive.
Medium band Southern Mas and Associates from Fyzabad was the first to cross the judging point at 2.45 pm, but with just about 30 of their 92 masqueraders. Band leader Michael Ramkissoon said the police did not allow the two buses transporting his masqueraders to enter the restricted area although they had the official passes. As a result, he said his masqueraders had to walk a long distance from Skinner Park to the judging point.
After crossing the stage with their presentation Fancy Natives, a band member spoke about hardships and difficulties they faced in the last year and thanked their supporters for their support.
Speaking afterwards Ramkissoon said who has been playing mas for 43 years, but producing his own band for eight years, said over the last three years bandleaders have been experiencing difficulty in receiving prize money.
“When we do get the money, we were getting a cut in the prizes. We had problems with the route. We had problems with the judging point.” He said one band was confused as to where to pass and ended up following his band.
“The bacchanal start since J’Ouvert because the J’Ouvert bands they had a problem, some did not want to go down Sutton Street, some want to go down Cipero Street. When you don’t put mas down Cipero Street, down to Skinner Park, you killing it.” He said going forward bandleaders and not politicians must be in charge of Carnival business. “San Fernando is the second city in Trinidad and Tobago get more money than we for Carnival.” He said it usually cost him $250,000 to bring out his band, but this year he scaled down his band from seven to four section at a cost of $100,000.
Fireworks Promotions bandleader Raju Nathu Hari also expressed his disapproval with the route. He said it caused some problems because the bands were being told to pass in one direction while the city corporation approved another direction.
“Not being able to go down Cipero Street was the biggest problem.” He said the new route was short and the masqueraders would be short-changed. Fireworks was the third band to cross the stage with Ethereal, a seven-section presentation, portraying beautiful and magical objects, beings or places that are not of this world.
Reigning south Band of year champs Jagessar Costumes was the second band to cross the stage with Mninconjou which represents a Native American tribe. The presentation consisted of seven sections. Some 12 bands registered with the San Fernando City Corporation, including three large bands, four medium bands and five small bands. National Security Minister Stuart Young and Police Commissioner Gary Griffith made a brief visit at the judging point while the second band was crossing the stage. There was a small turn out of spectators. Police confirmed that there were no reports of any major incidents.