Trinidad Car­ni­val, The Show Goes on!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Mark Saun­ders

De­spite clear signs and the im­pact of a re­ces­sion, cou­pled with threats of the Zika virus, Trinida­di­ans are ex­pected to be out in large num­bers, along with the thou­sands of vis­i­tors, for the cel­e­bra­tion of the twin is­land Re­pub­lic’s an­nual pre-len­tern car­ni­val. The car­ni­val cel­e­bra­tion, which tra­di­tion­ally kicks off on Box­ing Day De­cem­ber 26, will cli­max on Tues­day Fe­bru­ary 9 with the fi­nal pa­rade of the bands and last lap jump-up.

The week­end “fi­nale” was ex­pected to kick off with the grand stag­ing of the In­ter­na­tional Soca Monarch Fri­day evening dubbed “Fan­tas­tic Fri­day.” Last year’s groovy king Olatunji was a front-run­ner with his pop­u­lar “Oh Yay.” How­ever, Saint Lu­cia’s Ted­dyson John was said to have as good a chance with his song “Allez!” And de­spite stay­ing out of the com­pe­ti­tion Machel Mon­tano seemed to have come from be­hind this week to place his song “Wait­ing on the Stage” (a se­quel to Ad­van­ta­geous) as a solid Road March con­tender.

The mu­sic and the rhythm of the mas seem to have over­come any fears of a Zika threat. Last week Trinidad and Tobago’s health min­is­ter de­clared a na­tional health emer­gency over the mos­quito-borne Zika virus. All ma­jor car­ni­val venues, he said, would be sprayed but noted that it was not prac­ti­cal to screen per­sons ar­riv­ing at the coun­try’s ports of en­try.

How­ever, over the last few days the Zika threat did not seem to have any ad­verse ef­fects on peo­ple’s par­ty­ing habits or on vis­i­tor ar­rivals. Fetes like Machel Mon­day and Kees’ “Tues­day on the Rocks” went ahead as sched­uled draw­ing thou­sands of pa­trons. The only fete ca­su­alty for the week was Des­tra’s “Queen of Bac­cha­nal” which was can­celled one day be­fore cur­tain call. Low-ticket sales were blamed. Fire Fete was also can­celled two weeks ago, while some events have recorded smaller crowds. A rel­a­tively short car­ni­val sea­son and the re­ces­sion have been fin­gered.

Ac­cord­ing to many in­dus­try in­sid­ers the down­turn in the econ­omy has had a neg­a­tive im­pact on some car­ni­val fetes for 2016 and spon­sor­ship has been hard to come by with some ma­jor spon­sors ei­ther cut­ting back or pulling out all to­gether.

Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant TSTT said at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son that it would be cut­ting back on spon­sor­ship of events as car­ni­val was com­ing right on the heels of the pub­lic cel­e­brat­ing Christ­mas, amidst a slow­ing econ­omy and low en­ergy prices. Dig­i­cel and Carib Brew­ery, on the other hand, said they were en­sur­ing they re­ceived value for what they put out ac­cord­ing to a Trinida­dian Guardian re­port.

It has been es­ti­mated that this year there are over 150 all-in­clu­sive, cooler fetes and break­fast par­ties spread over Jan­uary 1 to Ash Wed­nes­day - a to­tal of 41 days - with as many as 60 in the five week­ends of Jan­uary and 90 in the first ten days of Fe­bru­ary.

Some say pro­mot­ers in some in­stances have over­priced them­selves. Fete prices range from TT$300 (US$50) to TT$3,000 (US$500).

On Car­ni­val Satur­day there are ex­pected to be 19 events, while 18 are carded for Car­ni­val Sun­day.

Still, or­ga­niz­ers are bank­ing on the in­flux of vis­i­tors mainly from North Amer­ica, Europe and the Caribbean to boost num­bers at events.

At least 200 in­ter­na­tional flights will be op­er­ated through­out the car­ni­val sea­son bring­ing more than 25,000 pas­sen­gers into Trinidad and Tobago. This ac­cord­ing to a re­lease from Caribbean Air­lines as they seek to add ex­tra flights to ac­com­mo­date the car­ni­val traf­fic. Key routes such as New York and Ja­maica have also gained ex­tra ca­pac­ity.

A num­ber of other ma­jor car­ri­ers in­clud­ing Vir­gin At­lantic, LIAT, Amer­i­can Air­lines, Air Canada and Bri­tish Air­ways are said to have seen an in­crease in busi­ness to Trinidad this week.

The tale of the tape will be re­vealed come Ash Wed­nes­day but al­ready it looks like come rain, shine or storm, the show that is de­scribed, as “the great­est on earth” will go on!

Not even bod­ily in­jury would keep this feter away from “Il­lu­sions” fete last week. (Photo: Triniscene)

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