As late as 8 pm on Thursday, when it seemed that tonight's 16th annual steelband parade along Western Main Road, St James, would be cancelled due to a lack of funding, Port-of-Spain Mayor Kerron Valentine came through and saved the day.
As he presented an award to Sharon Ramjohn, on behalf of 2016 WeBeat St James Live honoree the Kanhai family, the mayor announced that monies would be drawn down from the Mayor's Fund to finance the parade, to be staged by the St James Community Improvement Committee (St James CIC) this evening at 7 pm.
Also contributing to the event is the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and The Arts, as well as a handful of corporate entities including ANSA McAL, Carib, RBC Royal Bank, Caribbean Bottlers, Nestle, NCBA, blink/bmobile, T&T Film Festival and Everybody's Optical, as well as private citizens Marlene Goddard and Murchison Brown.
A number of steel orchestras had earlier assured the St James CIC that, with or without funding, they would perform tonight thereby not disappointing the thousands who throng to the western suburb of the nation's capital annually for this event. These steelbands included Republic Bank Exodus, NHL Starlift, bpTT Renegades Youth Steel Orchestra, St James Tripolians, Brimblers, Old Tech and La Creole Pan Groove.
Other steelbands, mostly from west Port-of-Spain, invited by the St James CIC to participate in the parade include PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars, Valley Harps, Scrunters Pan Groove, Harvard Harps, Musical Gems, Rhapsody, and Arima Golden Symphony.
The parade is also expected to be joined by traditional Carnival characters, under the auspices of the National Carnivals Bands Association (NCBA) and D'Tunapuna Vibrations.
Thursday's Honorees Night was attended by the mayor, councillor Wendell Stephens and other members of the PoS Corporation, WeBeat St James Live founder Earl Crosby, vice president Cecil Tomkin, former Pan Trinbago president Owen Serrette, NCBA chairman David Lopez, and former staff member in the Office of the Prime Minister Peter Kanhai.
Upon accepting the award on behalf of her family, Ramjohn stated that the iconic St James enterprise was started by her grandfather, the late Marshall Kanhai, an immigrant from India, 60 years ago.