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Sando eyes bumper Carnival celebrations

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Although T&T’s slowed economy has resulted in a decrease in allocations for Carnival, stakeholders in San Fernando see this as a major boost for the City’s celebrations.

The theory is that masqueraders and spectators will cut back on spending on costly costumes and accommodation for the Carnival Monday and Tuesday festivities in Port-of-Spain. Instead, those living in San Fernando and surrounding communities will opt to spend Carnival in South.

San Fernando Mayor Junia said yesterday that the San Fernando Carnival Committee is yet to receive its allocation from the National Carnival Commission, which has been allocated $147 million, a reduction from $168 million in 2017 and $270 million in 2016.

He said planning of events has begun, but without knowing their spending power, they cannot say how celebrations would be cut back.

“Based on the recommendation we got, we know there will be cut-down of funds. We have to rethink the way we do things in San Fernando with respect to Carnival. I think the marketing aspects will lie on the shoulders of the band leaders because we are facilitators. But people should know about the quality of mas in San Fernando and the consistency of the packages we produce, and make a comparison to Port-of-Spain.

“Prices in San Fernando are much better than in Port-of-Spain, the quality of the mas is still better and you get traditional and authentic mas. You as a masquerader have to weigh your options and look at what you want. It’s an opportunity for southern band leaders and masqueraders. It is convenient for southerners to play in San Fernando where they don’t have to leave home at 5 am and not have to worry about getting back home.”

In San Fernando, masqueraders can purchase costumes from as low as $1,000. Kalicharan Carnival has cut back on their prices this year to meet the needs of their customers’ budgets. Band leader Aaron Kalicharan said that they had predicted slower sales due to the economic downturn and devised a counteractive plan.

“We made all our costumes cheaper with prices lower than last year and we implement a new section where you can get a costume for just $1000. We have been getting a lot of calls from our regular masqueraders, who have asked us to hold their spots. We have also seen an increase in persons from San Fernando, who would normally go to Port-of-Spain to play mas. They came back to San Fernando because they can’t afford to play in Port-of-Spain,” Kalicharan said.

At Lionel Jagessar and Associates, where they specialise in traditional and fancy Indian mas, Lionel Jagessar Jr said their costumes range from $1,700 to $2,500. Costumers can also add various pieces to their costumes by requests. He said their customers usually flock to the mas camp from the middle of January when they get paid after spending heavily on Christmas. But given the cutback in spending, he said they have tried a new marketing approach in reaching customers in the malls and on social media rather than waiting for them to come to the mas camp.

They have also made it easier for their younger customers, who can come to the mas came and work towards paying for their costume while learning the art of mas making. They are also offering group discounts as well as deals to employees of their sponsor companies. All sections in the band are all-inclusive.


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