“THE culture in San Fernando is different if not peculiar” wrote San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello as he took to social media to comment on what has become a feature of southern city’s parade of the bands on Carnival Tuesday - a late start...a very late start.
The first band, Southern Mas Associates, crossed the southern city’s only judging point, the Harris Promenade Bandstand, at approximately 12.05 pm. Scores of spectators who lined the promenade and crammed the bleachers on either side of the bandstand, were left disappointed as the city’s most successful mas band, Kalicharan Carnival boycotted the judging point.
The band instead used Chancery Lane and High Street to walk around the judging point before going onto Coffee Street and Cipero Street, ending at Skinner Park.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, bandleader Aaron Kalicharan said several factors had influenced its decision, the first being the band’s failure to appear before the judging point on Carnival Monday. He however noted that when the band arrived at the judging point, which is in close proximity to the San Fernando Teaching and General hospitals, there were four other bands who were stalled just in front of the hospitals.
“Why should we park up by the hospital and play music for so long and for so loud, there are ill patients there and they have to take into consideration that patients are not well so there is no reason why music should be blaring like that.
Although carnival is bacchanal and revelry, you have to think about the persons involved.”
He said the decision was then taken not appear before the judges. Regarding Carnival Tuesday, he said the band once again attempted to pass on front of the judges but could not do so as other bands had disregarded the route and entered from another direction.
San Fernando Carnival committee convenor councillor Nygum Joseph said Kalicharan’s non-appearance is a “sad day” despite the city’s attempts to remedy the congestion of bands along High Street.
“They were one of the bands complaining about lower high street, the congestion on lower high street and we changed the route to accommodate them. This is best alternative. It is a sad day spectators would not see the largest band in San Fernando.”
And regarding prize monies, he said all bands would receive a stipend for passing in front of the judges. The stipend would depend on the band’s size with $15,000 for large bands, $12,000 for medium and $10,000 for small. Nine bands were expected to cross the judges’ point.