Traditional mas to grace the Savannah stage

...stickfighting swings into full gear

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Two stick fighters go at each other during last year's final at Skinner Park, San Fernando. Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

Traditional mas characters will for the first time be allowed to parade exclusively at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain following a series of ‘new interventions’ drafted by the National Carnival Commission (NCC).

Speaking with Express on Thursday, NCC chairman Kenny De Silva said: “For the first time ever on Carnival Monday, we will be giving traditional mas a window from 7 am to 1 pm. We are attempting to get free tickets to the hotels so the tourists can attend and enjoy traditional mas. We want to make the North Stand free so everybody can attend on Carnival Monday. People will be able to bring their children and the elderly to enjoy the mas.”

Traditional mas characters usually include Pierrot Grenades, Midnight Robbers, Blue Devils, Moko Jumbies, fire-breathing dragons, baby dolls, whip masters, sailors and bois men or stickfighters.

Asked about the slew of Carnival events, De Silva said, “All lights are green so far. Carnival is a giant you have to deal with. You will find some small hiccups. At this time, the challenge is getting Pan Trinbago, Trinbago Unified Calypsonian Organisation (TUCO) and NCC on the same page where the revenue is concerned. Pan Trinbago is managing their shows. We can’t take it away from them. We look forward to a collaborative effort in the best interest of the national festival.”

Move caters to elderly, communities 

Jennifer Cassar, chair of the Stickfighting Committee and a member of the Regional Carnival Committee, said it is a fantastic idea to expose traditional masqueraders who wanted to cross the stage on a Carnival Monday.

“Most of the times it’s the big pretty bands and a few sailor bands. They have their special charm and some of the elderly who love to play in the traditional mas bands would find it a good opportunity. Some elderly people would also love to view traditional mas. It will cater for differently-abled children from Lady Hochoy Homes and Princes Elizabeth Centre.

“It will put the focus on the communities that are steeped in traditional mas; communities such as Chaguanas (jab jabs), Talparo (Talparo Tambule In Kandal – boismen), Moruga and Mayaro (Marcano brothers), Gran Couva, Diego Martin (bats), Moko Jumbies (San Fernando and East West corridor), as well as the Warahoons (Biche Indians) and the dirty sailors will get a chance to display traditional mas.”

She said traditional mas represents a certain beauty, creativity, dignity and history which is unparalleled and most pleasing to the spectator.

Asked about fund distribution for community Carnivals, she said: “Cheques have been distributed since last week. Sixty (60) per cent is on hold till they have prize distribution functions. A future date will be set for the distribution of the other 60 per cent.”

Cassar said they have planning sessions going on as things are still in the pipeline and the public will be informed of further developments.

Stickfighting swing into full gear with the hosting of the semi-finals at the Arima Velodrome on Friday (Feb 17) from 7pm.

Six gayelles will be vying for a spot in the finals, which takes place on Wednesday (Feb 22) at Skinner Park, San Fernando.

Cost of entry to the semi-finals is $75 while tickets for the finals are priced at $100.