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Bandleaders object to parade route change

Thursday, January 16, 2014
FLASHBACK: A member of Brian MacFarlane’s Joy The Finale displays her costume in all its glory while crossing the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, stage during last year’s Parade of the Bands competition.

Carnival bandleaders are unhappy with proposals made by the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) for a major change to the parade route for the Parade of Bands on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. 



The current suggestion is to reverse the direction of the parade to the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, from east to west as it has traditionally been, to west-east, utilising Woodbrook and environs as the major artery to the competition venue. This change, it is believed, will help eradicate the major pile-up of bands which usually occurs to get into the venue. NCBA president Wrenwick Brown told the T&T Guardian that the plan was discussed last week at a meeting.



“There was a meeting last week Wednesday, chaired by NCC (National Carnival Committee), to discuss this proposal. A new plan for the parade route was suggested,” he said. “Once there is Carnival, there are problems, but I am sure that this problem will be worked out. 



“All competitions have rules and regulations and the Parade of Bands is no different. All participants must abide by the rules. The authorities are the ones who determine the parade route. The police say what the route should be, and the bandleaders just have to abide by what the police dictate.”



Technical concerns

But Stephen Derek, leader of D’Midas Associates, said the suggested plan endorsed by the NCC and NCBA would create a different problem for masqueraders. He said in the first instance, crossing the stage in a west-east direction will likely create technical problems because masqueraders will have to go against the wind.


“They don’t seem to firstly realise the problem masqueraders have on moving against the east-west wind that blows through the Savannah...We also have the same problem with Ariapita Avenue and Tragarete Road,” he said. “Why is it every year, six and seven weeks before Carnival, the NCC and NCBA come to talk of plans to improve Carnival? Why can’t they do so six or seven weeks after Ash Wednesday?” 


He added that other veteran bandleaders had alternative options to the one proposed for dealing with the congestion that traditionally causes huge pile-ups of bands at the Savannah entrance. 



“Gerald Hart, of Harts International, has a great plan to fix the congestion to the Savannah. It is to clear the way from Memorial Square of everybody—spectators, vendors—right up to the exit of the parade competition route. Move the people who vend and stand within the parade route, causing costumed masqueraders to go to the stage almost in single file. Put the spectators in the bleachers, and keep them there.”



Perennial issue

The congestion woes at the Queen’s Park Savannah have long been a concern for bandleaders. One of them, multi-Band of the Year winner Brian MacFarlane, has in fact opted not to participate this year in part because of the long periods his bands have had to wait to cross the stage over the years and his dissatisfaction at the organisation of the country’s biggest festival. Derek also expressed concern about the staging of the King and Queen of Carnival finals on Carnival Friday night. 


“It is a waste of time trying to compete with the Soca Monarch show by staging Big Friday (King and Queen of the Bands finals) in the Savannah,” he said. “Any show anybody does on that Carnival Friday night is going to flop and will be crushed by the Soca Monarch.


“The bottom line is that we bandleaders want the King and Queen of Carnival finals to be returned to Dimanche Gras on Carnival Sunday night. How can they return calypso alone? That night has traditionally been the night for the crowning of the merry monarch, the King of Carnival.” “Dimanche Gras is too long because it has too many unnecessary fillers on the programme. We have the man who produced the opening ceremonies for three Olympics. He holds the country’s highest award. 


“I know Peter Minshall can give T&T a world-class production on Carnival Sunday night, complete with the crowning of the national calypso monarch, and king and queen of Carnival.” Trini Revellers executive member Dave Cameron said he was hopeful there would be a quick resolution to the issue. “I am going along with what the mas fraternity decides...We need a united front among bandleaders,” he said.


“The management of Carnival is the main problem. The chairman of NCC said the NCC is to legally be made the co-ordinator of Carnival, by an act of Parliament. Of course, this legislation will not happen overnight.” NCC chairman Allison Demas could not be reached for comment yesterday, but vice-chairman and Regional Carnival Committee chairman Don Sylvester said: “There is a parade route committee, which is managed by the NCBA. It decides the parade route and brings it to the NCC. 


“So far, as far as I know, no route has been finalised,” he said.


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