Late start to parade of the bands in Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters. Photo by Sureash Cholai

THE Tobago Carnival parade of the bands got off to a late start on Sunday.

But spectators who had gathered along the main parade route, on Milford Road, Scarborough, from before midday, thoroughly enjoyed the traditional mas, which preceded the conventional band parade.

The THA Division of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation gave spectators more than an eyeful with its presentation, Taste of the Melting Pot.

National Carnival Commission chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters, who was spotted enjoying the festivities, said the commission again had no part in the organisation of the festival.

“The NCC did not really help with the production because nobody asked us to help,” he said.

“That’s the thing, we are the National Carnival Commission of the country of Trinidad and Tobago. But our input into Tobago Carnival is very, very, very minute, really.

“I think that is one of the problems because the expertise for Carnival really reside in Trinidad. There is nothing to really hide. People from all over the world want us to come and have an input in their carnival, which we do. We just had something in Miami. We were in New York.”

Peters said he just came back from a conference in Columbia dealing with carnival “because they have a lot of respect for us in Trinidad and our Trinidad-type Carnival.”

Saying the NCC needs to get several things “ironed out” with the THA, Peters believes last year’s organisation of the event was much better than this year’s.

“There are lots of shortcomings because carnival is not something that starts on carnival. This, to Tobago, is Carnival Tuesday and you have to put activities in place, your competitions, must be a certain time, so that the bands would be there so that the people would know and come to whatever you are having.

“But if it is and you are going to leave it to whatever and there is no incentive to bring the people and the bands here…everything we do in carnival has incentives to it.”

He said Tobago Carnival has the potential to be better that all of the other carnivals in the Caribbean.

‘Tobago Carnival has everything it takes to have a perfect carnival and we are going to have to make Tobago Carnival work.”

Peters said he did have initial talks with the THA but it never materialised “in terms of us having boots on the ground and doing the things that we had to do to have the blue print for it.

“There is a blueprint you can put here to make sure it works.”

He said, though, the J’Ouvert on Saturday was “fantastic and top of the line.”

Peters also admitted the NCC felt slighted when they had offered to help with last year’s event.

“But I am not feeling anything. I am just looking on and still we have to help because regardless to what this is still Trinidad and Tobago.”

The presentation offered glimpses into Tobago’s rich, unique culture. Several groups, including Sisters In Culture, contributed to the portrayal.

It featured dame Lorraines, minstrels, moko jumbies, sailors, blue devils, jab jabs, African dancers, gorillas, paper dolls and Tan Tan and Saga Boy.

BCB Golden Lane did a tribute to Tobago’s famed silk cotton tree while D’ Creators, led by Pearl Duke Orr, portrayed All Ah We As One.

The presentation featured mature masqueraders dressed in brightly-coloured tie dye tops, white shorts and straw hats.

The parade, which was originally scheduled to begin at 11am, did not get underway until around 2pm with Zain Carnival’s presentation, Blossom The Secret Garden.

Iconic Mas, led by Dexter Sandy, followed. But the small band, which played Gems of the Isle, took a break from the Milford Road parade route to enjoy some refreshments, before rejoining the revelry.

The band’s beautifully-designed sections depicted several of Tobago’s natural treasures: Buccoo Reef; Angel Reef; Pirates Bay; and No Man’s Land

Sandy, who is also interim president of the Tobago October Carnival Association, told Newsday, “We always try to feature something that is specific to Tobago to enhance the tourism product of Tobago and portray it in mas.”

He said band’s 160 masqueraders benefitted from a package that included J’Ouvert, conventional mas and an after-party.