Mas in Downtown Port of Spain in 2016 was a bit of a disappointment as crowds were sparse and bands were few and far between.
But it appeared the Downtown stage returned to its former glory this year. Even the burning sun and intermittent rainfall could not deter the spectators who lined the streets or filled the stands. The activities got off to an early start around 9 a.m. and saw a steady stream of bands make their way across the South Quay judging point.
By mid-morning, large bands Tribe, Showtime and Bliss, as well as a number of small and medium bands, had flowed seamlessly across the stage.
The highlight of the day, however, was when Brian MacFarlane’s Cazabon –The Art of Living made its appearance, amid bursts of colourful confetti.
The costumes featured various shades of white and brown and paid tribute to T&T’s best-known 19th-century artist, Michel- Jean Cazabon.
It was MacFarlane’s grand return to Carnival after a three-year hiatus and he did not disappoint.
Consisting of mainly older people, the band put on an energetic display to rival that of the younger, bikini-clad masqueraders from other bands.
President Anthony Carmona and his wife Reema were spotted in the section Apna Desh and Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez was moved to leave his seat to chip alongside the band as it passed. Stopping to speak briefly with reporters, MacFarlane praised this country’s intricate architecture which inspired some of Cazabon’s art. Martinez also praised the band’s presentation.
Machel forced to ‘beat it’
Following behind was the Jus’ Wee and Friends presentation of A Steampunk Affair, which was itself a tribute to cultural icon Earl Crosby, who died last year after a battle with cancer.
Another highlight was Ronnie and Caro’s presentation of Fearless 10. The massive band crossed the stage around 3 p.m. and caused some tension between the band’s security and spectators who breached the barriers to dance with the masqueraders.
Several people were seen being escorted from the band, while announcers pleaded with spectators to keep outside of the ropes. Food vendors in Downtown Port of Spain reported poor sales, and one told the Express that many limers had opted to pack their own food and refreshments.
As for music, by all appearances Machel Montano will have to “beat it” this year as “Full Extreme” by MX Prime and Ultimate Rejects was the song of choice for the majority of bands crossing the Downtown stage.
A few small bands crossed the stage accompanied by pan or tassa. Montano’s “Beat It” and Orlando Octave’s “Single” were heard a few times throughout the day.