Sitting under a tree in Woodford Square, Port-of-Spain, secretary of Fisherman and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) Gary Aboud made a tearful plea to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to mediate with
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Tim Kee to junior bands: Forget NCBA route: Play your mas downtown
Port-of-Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee says tomorrow’s Junior Parade of the Bands will begin at the downtown judging point at South Quay, despite statements otherwise from the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA). Last week, Woodbrook residents had circulated a petition opposing the NCBA’s decision to begin the route for tomorrow’s Junior Parade of the Bands competition at Adam Smith Square, Ariapita Avenue. The residents argued that changing the starting point of the route from Port-of-Spain to Woodbrook would be unfair to children travelling from outside Port-of-Spain. Yesterday at the corporation’s monthly statutory meeting, Tim Kee made it clear they were not in agreement with the NCBA’s route change, adding that the reasons given were inadequate. He described the NCBA’s decision as “personal and pregnant with ego.”
Tim Kee said he believed the decision was taken due to a disagreement last year between the NCBA and the Port-of-Spain corporation regarding the space allocated for each entities’ judges.
“The situation was easy to fix. The NCBA wanted to share the facilities for judging and I conceded that this should be done for this year’s event.” He said despite his decision to concede to the NCBA’s wishes, the organisation still made the decision to remove children’s carnival from downtown Port-of-Spain. “I understand that last year a representative of the NCBA threatened to remove Carnival from Downtown,” he said. Tim Kee said he had discussions with bandleaders and 75 per cent of them agreed to begin their parade route in downtown Port-of-Spain. “We have agreements with the police to man Frederick Street and after discussions with police we have adjusted the route so that the parade does not have to go to Charlotte Street but can continue to the top of Frederick Street before turning to go toward the Savannah,” Tim Kee said.
He said that would provide a free flow of bands on the route. He said NCBA could not force bands to begin at Adam Smith Square. “You (the NCBA) are there to facilitate mas, our carnival, our culture. You are not the owner.” Tim Kee’s comment came a day after his deputy, Kerron Valentine also expressed his anger at a decision by the National Carnival Commission (NCC) to move today’s annual regional children’s traditional mas parade from a downtown starting point to around the Queen’s Park Savannah. Valentine said he believed the move was intentional and aimed at keeping the mas out of downtown Port-of-Spain but NCC chair Allison Demas denied that.
The junior parade has started in downtown Port-of-Spain for the past 35 years. Junior bandleader Rosalind Gabriel said she was elated at the mayor’s announcement and said her band would definitely start its route at the downtown judging point. “I was not in favour of starting on the avenue for many reasons. One was the wind factor and the transport but also the disrespect to Port-of-Spain,” she said. “Would you take Hoosay out of St James or Divali out of the Nagar? Then why would you remove Carnival from downtown Port-of-Spain. It is interfering with the geography of Carnival.” Gabriel said she had received a lot of concerned queries from parents of young masqueraders and she was glad that their concerns could be put to rest.