Machel Montano's Advantage was the most played song at the Queen's Park Savannah yesterday as masqueraders danced across the venue for the first time in three years. Several masqueraders expressed joy at being able to cross the Savannah stage which they said put excitement back into Carnival. The stage is the centrepiece of newly constructed Savannah facilities, including rebuilt Grand and North Stands. The venue, widely regarded as the mecca of T&T Carnival, had been closed in 2007 to make way for a state of the art Carnival centre that was never built. Trini Revellers masquerader Ayanna Boyce, who was rooting for Montano's song Advantage to win Road March, told the T&T Guardian: "It is about time they reopened the stage."
Sisters Michelle and Monique Marshall, who played in the mas band Spice, also expressed their excitement about being able to cross the stage yesterday morning. Harts masquerader Nicole Maingot said: "I am incredibly excited for tomorrow morning (today). I missed the stage. Carnival wasn't Carnival without it." The stage's importance was seen as bands such as Mt Hope Connection, Poison, Tribe and Trini Revellers passed through the Savannah with their masqueraders dancing and celebrating to the musical accompaniment of Montano's Advantage. Among the high-profile mas players spotted crossing the Savannah stage was Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Anil Roberts, who played in Tribe.
Not even midday showers could dampen the revelry, as bands were ushered on and off the stage in a timely manner, with no incidents reported. The reopening of the stage was not only beneficial to masqueraders, but attracted large numbers of tourists who helped fill the once vacant stands. Craft vendors at the Carnival Village used this to their advantage as they did a thriving trade, selling jewelry, wood carvings and paintings to patrons at the Savannah.