Band of the Year coming despite parade problems
By Gerald V. Paul
Despite significant logistical problems at the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Grand Parade, “a Band of the Year will be announced” the chief administrative officer of the Festival Management Committee, told The Camera yesterday.
In an exclusive interview, Chris Alexander took dead aim at spectators who charged into the parade, joining leaders of two of the larger mas bands in blaming those “stormers”, and a police decision, for delays that resulted in only five of nine bands being judged at the second stage.
A police warning of an electrical storm in the area – a danger to those wearing costumes with metal frames – resulted in the judges at the second stage leaving without judging the bands that had not reached that location. Alexander said, echoing comments from the two mas band leaders.
“As for the stormers (individuals going beyond the fence to participate in the parade) if you all want to be part of the parade join a mas band. Pay to play. Show some respect!” Alexander stated forcefully.
Louis Saldenah, leader of Mas K Club, and Marcus Eustace, leader of Carnival Nationz, were critical of the way the parade was run, with both calling for Alexander to be replaced. They, along with Alexander, recommended creation of an ongoing campaign to educate stormers about the problems they cause.
Alexander was reminded of his thoughts in the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival publication in which he noted they “worked closely with the emergency services such as the police, fire, EMS,and various security companies from our venues and the private security companies which we hire to ensure maximum safety for the general public and participants in festival.” Scotiabank is title sponsor but does not directly assist in managing the carnival, he added.
Also, he noted, like every year, 2014 will be a year of changes and enhancements to the festival. “This year, our parade route and staging areas for the grand parade along the Lakeshore have been enhanced. We have introduced a separate Steel Pan Parade following the Masquerade Bands so that pan music can be heard in its true form along the route.”
But according to representatives of the pan community, they were dismayed at being put at the end of the parade. Alexander countered: “The members of the steel band agreed to be in that position.”
Saldenah and Eustace both stressed, “Bad management. Bad organization”
The band leaders said mainly young people crashed the event. “The young people need more education. It’s not a free-for-all. It’s a Scotiabank Carnival,” Eustace said.
According to Eustace, “The spectators ran out on the parade route, mixing with the mas players. This is not right.”
Both men noted that their bands spend four to five months preparing costumes for the parade, at considerable expense and that hundreds of dedicated volunteers have worked hard to make the event a success.
Alexander stressed that “safety is more important than judging,” referring to when the police made a judgment call around 5 p.m. to stop the parade
The police were concerned about the wiring in the mas costumes and floats, and the metal fences due to the potential of a thunderstorm, expected to hit around 6:30 p.m.
Alexander said, “We need to have year-round education so people will behave differently. And by the way we hate putting fences up.”
And another issue is that they need a longer time, at least a week or two, to set up for the parade, he added. They only had a day and a half as the Indy race event slowed down their set-up process.
Alexander pointed out that over the years the festival has gone through many changes and has built numerous relationships with the continued exposure provided by this festival.