Maracas quiet except for police

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

While their wasn’t the usual early turnout, many still decided to make Maracs Bay their destination on Ash Wednesday. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Maracas Beach was not nearly as crowded on Ash Wednesday as in some previous years. Everyone on the beach noticed, except the tourists.

But the police were out in full force, on boat, jet ski, motorbike, horse, car and foot.

Police officers on horses got the attention of these children at Maracas Beach on Wednesday Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Three shark-and-bake vendors thought the police presence was the cause of the lower than normal turnout.

Denica Roxborough-Alum from Abby’s Bake and Shark said, “Even before covid, the beach wasn’t all that busy. I don’t know the reason.

“But I know it have a lot of police officers. We appreciate them, but it deters a lot of people from coming to the beach. There’s a lot of licensing officers on the Maracas Road. I not sure it have today, but that’s what normally happens – only on Ash Wednesday, though. They have a lot of police officers on the beach with horses and motorbikes.

“But Monday and Tuesday was really good. The beach was ram out. Today is nothing.”

Roxborough-Alum said Wednesday’s turnout continued a downward trend of visitors to Maracas for Ash Wednesday.

“It’s normally a lot less people. Even before covid, it’s been quiet. Long ago it had a lot of people so some people wouldn’t even come with that expectation it would have a lot of traffic.”

Romeo Fraser, who provides chairs to beachgoers, said, “It’s a beautiful day, but usually this time it’s triple the amount of people. But throughout the afternoon, it would get there.”

Mariah Alexander from Natalie’s Bake and Shark said, “The crowd really is not plenty. Normally the whole beach does be full.

“(The police) is the reason why the people not here. They wreck people cars, they stop people and send them back if there’s too much people. So (the people) know the situation, and is every Ash Wednesday, so they don’t bother with it any more.”

Idrissa DeGraff and his partner Ianna John agreed the population of Ash Wednesday beachgoers was noticeably less. But he was glad they came to relax

DeGraff said, “It very safe. The crime rate so high they making sure nothing can’t go on, so that’s a good thing. It would only deter the ones who want to do mischief.”

Lifeguard captain Karl Hernandez said they expected the crowd in the morning.

Maracas Bay Lifeguard Captain Karl Hernandez, speaks about his team’s efforts on Ash Wednesday. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

“We didn’t have the crowd. It now starting to build up for the cooldown. What we does do is prepare for the worst, because yesterday had plenty people. And is just a bare staff I working with – seven lifeguard and two patrol captain.

“So we going and put on a jet ski, but we had a problem for gas. But the lifeguards take out the money from we own pocket, because that’s the only way you could control the crowd – with jet skis.”

Along the length of the beach, all the flags were red. Hernandez said that would not change for the remainder of Ash Wednesday.

“Maracas Bay has a lot of current. It might not be looking so, ‘cause the tide real low right now. (But) just now tide will full back and you’d see the water kicking up.

“The sea kinda calm right now, but yesterday and day before had a lot of big waves.”

Throughout the Carnival period Hernandez said, there were no reports of life-threatening incidents.

PC Payne from the Mounted and Canine Division said he was at Maracas on a special patrol.

“It’s just an exercise to make the public feel safe. It have plenty foreigners and we just want to give them a police presence. As of now, there are no reports of any incidents.”

Payne could not say if there would be traffic stops later in the evening. He too was surprised by the low turnout at the beach and the absence of traffic on the way.”I was expecting more. As time goes along, I don’t know if more people would come. It’s still early, it’s now 1 pm. I don’t know if they now leaving home.”

Payne said he could not say whether people might be charged for smoking marijuana, nor did he know about arrests in previous years. He did not rule it out, as it is an offence, he said.

But, he said, “If we arrest people, we have nowhere to carry them. We have dogs here,” pointing to his car. “If we arrest (someone), we have to call people from the station.”