FIREWORKS Promotions was declared winner of the San Fernando Band of the Year (large category) for the first time in the band’s 24 years of existence.
Mayor Junia Regrello and convenor of Carnival Naigum Joseph went to Fireworks mas camp on Independence Avenue, to present the prize money and challenge trophy to bandleader Wayne Hanooman, who was absent from the prize-giving ceremony earlier.
Regrello had earlier presented the prize and trophy to Joseph at the City Hall on behalf of Fireworks, indicating their absence was due to “protest” in support of Kalicharan who had boycotted the judging point on Carnival Tuesday.
Regrello told Hanooman the ambassador of the Dominican Republic Jose A Serulle Ramia, who had attended the San Fernando J’Ouvert celebrations, selected Firework’s presentation of Ethereal to represent San Fernando at the Dominican Republic’s carnival in November.
Hanooman apologised for his absence, telling the mayor he has been in bed with the virus since Carnival Tuesday, and the other bandleader, Raju Natu, was at work. In an interview, Hanooman said he was “surprised, shocked but elated by the gesture and win, because normally I don’t get first place or anything. I appreciate it.”
In the 24 years he has been producing a band, originally in the medium category and for the last 13 years in the large band category, this is the first time he has won. “I came second and third before, but at the end of the day I always respected the judges’ decision.”
Hanooman said he hopes the win will attract more masqueraders to his band in 2020. He was also excited about participating in the Dominican Republic carnival as well as the Grand Cayman carnival later this year.
Kalicharan boycotted the lone Harris Promenade judging point, making the band ineligible to compete for the grand prize. It gave congestion and security issues as the reason for that decision.
The mayor said he believes money issues were at the centre of the protest, as the bands were originally promised only an appearance fee. He said when NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters came to J’Ouvert and saw what the city was doing, he guaranteed an increase in the subvention to allow for first, second and third-place prizes. Regrello said he was not aware of the boycott until Carnival Tuesday afternoon.
Regrello commended Ivan Kalicharan, Lionel Jagessar and Associates and Fireworks for keeping San Fernando Carnival alive. Although Kalicharan boycotted the judging point, his queen Laura Rampersad placed second in the Queen of Carnival competition.
Jagessar’s band Mninconjou won in the traditional category. Its queen, Kerina Badal, was named Queen of the Carnival. Lionel Jagessar Jr placed second in the King competition.